JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Tis' the season for fun, family, and spreading lots of germs. As you're celebrating the holidays this weekend with friends and family, doctors say beware of the flu and laryngitis. If you're the one that's coughing and sneezing, you may want to just stay home to avoid getting others sick.
Waking up in the morning with a sore throat is bad enough but when you lose your voice completely, that can really ruin the holidays-especially when you're trying to sing along to all your favorite Christmas songs. More than 3 million people a year get laryngitis. Around cold season when your immune system is already weakened by a cold, it can lead to a number of other problems, laryngitis is one of the most common ones. Dr. Kasraeian says laryngitis is an inflammation or infection of your vocal chords that causes you to lose your voice.
"People feel hoarseness or they lose their voice. With strep throat or upper respiratory infections you don't necessarily completely lose your voice," said Kasraeian.
Other symptoms include congestion, a dry cough, a scratchy voice, and discomfort in the back of your throat. Short term laryngitis is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection.
"Most of the time this is self-relenting. It lasts a few day- up to a week. But if it's longer than that or if you start having a fever or other issues, make sure you talk to a doctor," said Kasraeian.
People who smoke, have acid reflux or heart burn are more likely to develop chronic laryngitis- which is long lasting.
Similar to the common cold and the flu, laryngitis is contagious. Avoid sharing drinks, cover your mouth when your sneeze or cough, and wash your hands frequently to protect yourself.
The key is to rest your voice and hydrate well. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and smoking which can all irritate your vocal chords even more. A humidifier can help by adding moisture in to your room and your vocal chords. Adding a teaspoon of honey to warm tea or a couple slices of ginger can soothe your throat throughout the day.
In Duval County, local CareSpot's are reporting a spike in patients with the flu, bronchitis and laryngitis.
In Clay County at the CareSpot in Middleburg, it's been upper respiratory infections and strep throat.
In St Johns County, they've treated a couple cases of laryngitis, the common cold, and several sinus infections.
In Nassau County at the CareSpot in Yulee, the doctors say their office has been flooded with viral infections-including laryngitis and the flu.