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Laryngitis definition and facts

  • Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice cords in the voice box (larynx).
  • Causes of laryngitis include upper respiratory infection or the common cold; overuse of the vocal cords by talking, singing, or shouting; gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) causing reflux laryngitis; smoking; exposure to secondhand smoke; or exposure to polluted air.
  • Laryngitis is contagious if it is caused by an infection.
  • The most common signs and symptoms of laryngitis are hoarseness, loss of voice, and throat pain.
  • Additional signs and symptoms of laryngitis in adults may include dry, sore throat, pain with swallowing, and a feeling of fullness in the throat or neck. If the laryngitis is caused by an infection, the affected person also may have symptoms of fever, swollen lymph nodes (swollen glands).
  • Additional signs and symptoms of laryngitis in infants or children are associated with croup and include a hoarse barky cough and fever.
  • Laryngitis is considered chronic when signs and symptoms of last longer than three weeks.
  • Chronic laryngitis may be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease, smoking, constant exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, or alcohol use.
  • Chronic inflammation due to laryngitis may cause the formation of nodules or polyps on the vocal cords.
  • Treatment of laryngitis is usually symptomatic with voice rest, humidified air, and natural and home remedies for symptom relief.
  • If signs and symptoms of laryngitis persist for more than three weeks or continue to recur, make an appointment with a doctor.
  • Complications of laryngitis from GERD include pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, and vocal cord paralysis.
Reviewed on 8/8/2017

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