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Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box, or larynx (say "LAIR-inks"), that causes your voice to become raspy or hoarse.
Laryngitis can be short-term or long-lasting (chronic). Most of the time, it comes on quickly and lasts no more than 2 weeks.
Chronic symptoms are those that last 2 weeks or longer. Check with your doctor if your symptoms last longer than 2 weeks. Your laryngitis may be caused by more severe problems.
Laryngitis can be caused by:
Acid reflux is the most common cause of chronic laryngitis. But chronic laryngitis may be caused by more severe problems such as nerve damage, sores, polyps, cancer, or hard and thick lumps (nodules) on your vocal cords. The vocal cords are the vibrating elastic bands inside the larynx that produce your voice.
Some hoarseness may occur naturally with age as your vocal cords loosen and grow thinner.
The main symptom of laryngitis is hoarseness. Your voice may sound raspy, be deeper than normal, or break now and then. You may lose your voice completely. Other symptoms may include a dry or sore throat, coughing, and trouble swallowing.
More severe symptoms may mean there is another problem.
A doctor can identify laryngitis by doing a physical examination that will probably include feeling your neck for sensitive areas or lumps and checking your nose, mouth, and throat.
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 (otolaryngologist). The way your vocal cords look and the sound of your voice will help the specialist find out if your laryngitis will go away on its own or if you need treatment.
With most cases of laryngitis, home treatment is all that you need.
If acid reflux (GERD) is causing your laryngitis, you may need to take steps to reduce the reflux.
Chronic laryngitis may need more treatment. For example, if you keep getting laryngitis because of a problem with the way you talk or sing, you may need speech training. This can help you change habits that can cause laryngitis. It can also help your larynx heal.
You may need surgery if your vocal cords have been damaged, such as by sores or polyps.
Current as of: April 15, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: Adam Husney MD - Family MedicineAnne C. Poinier MD - Internal MedicineE. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineDonald R. Mintz MD - Otolaryngology
Current as of: April 15, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Donald R. Mintz MD - Otolaryngology
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