Diagnosis of laryngitis is done via physical exam that includes feeling your neck for sensitive areas or lumps and checking your throat, nose, and mouth. If you have voice problems and hoarseness that don’t have an obvious cause and that last longer than 2 weeks, your doctor may refer you to a specialist known as an otolaryngologist. The way your vocal cords feel to you often makes it pretty obvious that you have laryngitis, and to your doctor the way your vocal cords look, along with the sound of your voice, will help the specialist see if your laryngitis will go away on its own, or if you need treatment.
With acute laryngitis treatment typically is not needed as it improves on its own. Rest your voice and drink plenty of fluids, though not alcohol or caffeine
Visiting a GP is necessary only for chronic laryngitis, and can be diagnosed with a physical exam, which involves feeling your neck for sensitive areas or lumps as well as checking your nose, mouth and throat. The doctor will ask about your lifestyle—whether and how much you smoke and/or drink, if you are exposed to chemicals and/or dust at work, whether you engage in activities that require shouting and/or constant talking. The doctor will also ask what prescription medications you take and if you have had recent surgery or trauma to the throat
In more severe cases—voice problems and hoarseness that don’t have an obvious cause and last two to three weeks, a laryngoscopy may be performed. A laryngoscopy allows the doctor to find the cause of voice problems such as chronic laryngitis, as it allows your physician to look at the back of your throat, voice box (larynx) and vocal cords with a scope called a laryngoscope.
There are two types of laryngoscopies:
Indirect laryngoscopy. The doctor shines a light in your mouth while wearing either a mirror on his or her head or headgear with a bright light. The purpose is to reflect light to the back of the throat
Direct fiber-optic (flexible or rigid) laryngoscopy. This type is done more frequently than indirect laryngoscopy as it allows the doctor to see deeper into your throat. The scope is either flexible or rigid. A direct rigid laryngoscopy can collect tissue samples (biopsy). Before having this procedure tell your doctor what medications you are taking; if you are allergic to any medications, including anesthetics; have heart problems; take blood thinning medicine such as Coumadin; or have had surgery or radiation treatments to your mouth or throat.
A direct rigid laryngoscopy is performed by an ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat specialist). You shouldn’t eat or drink for eight hours before the test. A general anesthetic is administered for the test, so someone else should drive your home afterward. This procedure takes 15 to 30 minutes, a bit longer than other types of laryngoscopies.
If a biopsy was taken, it is normal to spit up a small amount of blood. Ask the doctor what is normal and how long it might last. If the bleeding lasts for 24 hours, or if there is a lot of bleeding, or you have any trouble breathing, please seek help.
Both an indirect laryngoscopy and direct flexible laryngoscopy can be done in a doctor’s office; the procedure should take just five to ten minutes.