Can food poisoning cause laryngitis?
June 19, 2006 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Is it a coincidence that I have gotten laryngitis along with a mild case of food poisoning?

I went to a an outdoor event with a potluck dinner on Saturday. The event started before noon, and the dinner was at 5pm. So everyone who brought food had to keep it cold, if necessary, for several hours. (I brought smoked salmon, which I kept unopened in the package in a cooler. The cooler did seem cool enough when I got the salmon out later in the day.)

The food was tasty. About 8 or 9 hours later the symptoms of intestinal distress began to kick in, with some lightheadedness. (No vomiting, at least... I hate vomiting!) I spent the next day feeling verrrrry uncomfortable, if you know what I mean. Seems pretty likely that someone might not have been following all the rules of food safety. But I started to feel better in the evening and today the worst is over, though I still feel under the weather, understandably. Probably no need to bother a doctor over it, unless it takes a U-turn for the worse.

But. While the first food poisoning symptoms were kicking in, I noticed that I was a bit hoarse. By yesterday evening my voice was almost gone. Today... well, it's gone. My throat isn't particularly sore... unless I try to talk, but that's obviously not a good idea. My understanding is that this is just laryngitis, and I should treat it at home unless it lasts more than a few days. That's fine, I guess.

But what I am wondering is if this is likely to be coincidental, or if there is any reason why I would have developed this simultaneously with the food poisoning? Is this something that indicates I should actually see a doctor more urgently than otherwise? Because with either acute laryngitis or mild food poisoning I wouldn't normally see a doctor unless it lasted a while or caused severe pain, etc. (Obviously if it is an infection rather than food poisoning I guess there could be throat issues. But I've never had anything like this -- if I had an upper respiratory infection, I feel like I'd know it because as an asthmatic, I'm pretty darn familiar with those. This feels different. Not the usual sore throat that you get with the respiratory infection.)

I do not typically get laryngitis (I can't remember the last time I had it), but I have had strep throat within the last year (much different -- more painful and felt more like flu), and I frequently have some hoarseness (but much milder -- just a bit of a roughness in the voice, nothing at all like the feeling of this laryngitis) as a side effect of the Advair I am taking.

Could this actually be an allergic reaction of some sort, perhaps? I don't have any outright "food allergies" that I have had confirmed, but I do seem to have some issues with lavender, rosemary, and roses as possible asthma triggers; this particular potluck was one at which it's possible some of those ingredients might have been around, but I don't know for sure.

Any thoughts?

(Disclaimer: I know you're not my doctors and if either the food poisoning or the laryngitis changes for the worse I will see a real local doctor ASAP.)
posted by litlnemo to Health & Fitness (14 answers total)
Best answer: Food poisoning would put stress on your body by weakening your immune system, but viral laryngitis would take 3-4 days to develop symptoms after infection. Bacterial laryngitis is less likely than viral but would take longer to show symptoms. The effects of food poisoning usually happen a few hours after eating bad food, but sometimes can take longer.

In sum, it is likely that you were infected with laryngitis before eating tainted food, but perhaps your body would have fought it off without symptoms had you not eaten tainted food.

If you have viral laryngitis, antibiotics wouldn't help and most doctors would suggest you let it run its course. Drinking fluids and resting will help your body get better. Good luck.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:34 PM on June 19, 2006

IANAD, but through past experience, food poisoning acts much faster than the 8-9 hours you mention, which makes me somewhat suspicious that it may not be related to the food. It might be worth a call to a clinic or a health hotline just to run your symptoms by a medical professional. Maybe some other MeFites can provide some additional suggestions.
posted by galimatias at 6:44 PM on June 19, 2006

Response by poster: galimatlas, my understanding is that food poisoning can happen with varying delays, depending on the type of food poisoning you get. From what I saw when looking it up online, an 8-9 hour delay isn't abnormal. When I had salmonella a few years ago, it was more like a 48 hour delay.

Blazecock Pileon, that does sound like a logical explanation.
posted by litlnemo at 6:55 PM on June 19, 2006

If there's reflux going on as a result of the food poisoning, could that have caused reflux laryngitis?
posted by the_bone at 9:11 PM on June 19, 2006

Do you have allergies or get sinus infections a lot? Very occasionally, my allergies make my voice sound way off or kinda quiet, and sometimes just before I get a sinus infection (or more likely, just before I get other symptoms) it'll happen too.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:37 AM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: the_bone, I don't think there was reflux... I didn't really feel any heartburn.

IndigoRain, I don't particularly have allergies or sinus infections. Not that it couldn't happen, but I haven't tended to have that problem.
posted by litlnemo at 1:03 AM on June 20, 2006

Is it possible that it wasn't food poisoning at all, but just the timing of whatever it was that is bringing on the laryngitis? Especially in the summer, probably because of the heat, my head/chest colds also upset my stomach. You might have already been sick when you went to the party, and just didn't really feel it until later.
posted by dness2 at 7:48 AM on June 20, 2006

You went to an outdoor potluck event. There were many other people there; were you talking more than usual? It was outside; was it louder than your usual environment and were you talking louder to compensate?
posted by booksandlibretti at 10:19 AM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: dness2, yes, that might be it, though, other than the laryngitis, intestinal symptoms, and general malaise, I don't have any symptoms. So it doesn't seem to be a cold.

booksandlibretti, I did yell a bit because we were playing baseball, but I didn't feel any pain, any sore throat, etc. either then or later. That's sort of the weirdness of this. I lost my voice painlessly and that started the same time the fod poisoning symptoms did.

So far I tend to think it's an infection of some sort, and the timing is coincidental, but if anyone has any other ideas, keep them coming.

Incidentally, today's status: voice still gone but food poisoning seems likely to be gone as well.
posted by litlnemo at 2:27 PM on June 20, 2006

There is a nasty cold going around in various parts of the US that lasts for weeks, and cycles through various symptomatic phases. A late stage is almost total laryngitis, exacerbated by the persistent deep chest cough that predates it. I know 20 people who have had this, and all have had the laryngitis at some point. Often, it seems to appear days after the worst of the coughing subsides (the coughing doesn't completely subside for weeks, especially bad at night.) Any chance you had a cough that seemed to break a few days ago, sinus congestion, etc?

Laryngitis is often caused by allergies as well. Perhaps you had an allergic reaction to something in the food?
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:13 PM on June 20, 2006

Response by poster: Hmm. No cough or anything. Just the intestinal symptoms at the same time the laryngitis started. I've been pretty darn healthy for a few months, actually.

I am wondering if I had some sort of strange reaction to the food. But I haven't had food allergies in the past.

My voice has started improving somewhat.
posted by litlnemo at 5:30 AM on June 21, 2006

Response by poster: Follow-up: my voice is substantially better today. In fact, it started improving while I was hanging out with friends last night and talking -- I thought that would make it worse, but it didn't seem to. I questioned some folks who made the food at the event about the ingredients, but so far there doesn't seem to be much that would have been questionable. So the cause of my two ailments will probably remain a mystery. :)
posted by litlnemo at 4:38 PM on June 21, 2006

Curious why you checked my answer as "best" if you say you didn't have the cold I was talking about . . .
posted by fourcheesemac at 7:02 PM on June 21, 2006

Response by poster: Actually it was a mistake. I didn't realize I'd clicked it. :) It was a good answer though... even though it didn't apply to my situation.
posted by litlnemo at 11:02 PM on June 21, 2006

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