The voice box, or larynx, contains the vocal cords. It’s located at the top of the airway (trachea) to the lungs. Laryngitis occurs when the vocal cords become infected or inflamed and swell. Typically it’s associated with loss of voice or hoarseness, and in severe cases it can block the airway.
Our doctor performs diagnosis of laryngitis for patients in our region. Treatments may include recommendations for self-care or treatment of the underlying causes.
What are the symptoms of laryngitis?
- Sore throat
- Weak voice
- Voice loss
- Swollen lymph node or glands in the neck
- Tickling sensation
- Dry throat and cough
What causes laryngitis?
Laryngitis may be caused by:
- A viral infection such as a cold or flu
- Viruses such as mumps or measles
- Vocal strain such as yelling or overusing your voice
- Habitual overuse of voice (as with singing)
- Postnasal drip
- Excessive alcohol use
- Chemicals or irritants
- Gatroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Bacterial infections
What is the difference between acute and chronic laryngitis?
There are two forms of laryngitis, acute and chronic. Acute laryngitis lasts a few days while chronic laryngitis lasts for weeks or even months. With both you may have hoarseness, partial or total loss of voice, a sore throat, difficulty swallowing and fever. The main difference is that acute laryngitis will generally clear up on its own and lasts only a couple of weeks.
With laryngitis symptoms that last more than 3 weeks, you should schedule a visit with our doctor. This may be chronic laryngitis and may be caused by exposure to chemical irritants (like paint remover) or dust, smoking, or excessive alcohol consumption. Sinusitis, bronchitis, nasal polyps and allergies are other possible causes.
How do you diagnose laryngitis?
Our doctor performs a physical exam and takes your clinical history to determine the cause of your symptoms and if you have laryngitis. In some cases our doctor may perform a laryngoscopy (a visualization of your vocal cords) or a biopsy of any suspicious area or tissue.
How is laryngitis treated?
Your acute laryngitis can be managed by a variety of self-care steps that include avoiding public speaking, limiting whispering as it has a greater strain on the vocal cords, drinking soothing, warm liquids (non-alcoholic), using a humidifier, inhaling steam in a warm shower or from a bowl of hot water, using throat lozenges to ease discomfort, avoiding decongestants that can dry the throat and avoiding cigarettes. If the cause of your laryngitis is a bacterial infection, our doctor will prescribe antibiotics.
If there is an underlying medical problem and your laryngitis is chronic, our doctor will treat the underlying cause. This can include a variety of treatments that will be discussed during your office visit.