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What is Laryngitis? Print E-mail
Written by Mike Cohen   
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Laryngitis is a general term for inflammation of the voice box, or larynx. It can be caused by many different conditions. The larynx is a tube-like structure that connects the back of the throat to the windpipes. It contains the vocal cords, which help us to talk.
What is going on in the body?

The larynx and vocal cords become inflamed, reducing their ability to function, limiting the ability to talk, and possibly causing pain.
What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The many causes of laryngitis include:
# infection
# overuse of the voice, such as doing a lot of yelling and screaming
# inhalation of smoke or fumes
# excess alcohol consumption
# damage to the nerves that supply the vocal cords, known as laryngeal nerve damage
# cancer
# trauma or injury to the neck or vocal cords, including from smoking
# severe gastroesophageal reflux or GERD

What are the treatments for the condition?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Plenty of fluids and humidified air often help relieve symptoms. The person should try to limit use of the voice for a few days. Smoking and second-hand smoke should be avoided. Medications to break up mucus and treat infections may be given. Throat lozenges and gargling can be helpful. Pain relievers such as aspirin or ibuprofen may also be used. Medications to reduce stomach acid are given if the cause is acid reflux or heartburn. Cancer is treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and sometimes chemotherapy.
What are the side effects of the treatments?

All medications have side effects. Some pain relievers and antibiotics can cause stomach upset and allergic reactions. Cancer treatment has many side effects, including possible death.
What happens after treatment for the condition?

Most cases of laryngitis resolve in a week or so. If laryngitis lasts for more than a month or seems suspicious, more testing such as laryngoscopy is done. For simple causes such as voice overuse and infection, further treatment is rarely required. The person can usually go back to normal activities.
How is the condition monitored?

The underlying cause may need to be watched closely, especially if it is gastroesophageal reflux, stroke, or cancer. If the laryngitis is due to other causes, it usually does not require further monitoring, and goes away within 1 to 2 weeks.

 

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