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Laryngitis
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Laryngitis

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Laryngitis is an inflammation of your voice box (larynx) due to overuse, irritation or infection. The larynx is a framework of cartilage, muscles and mucous membranes that forms the entrance of your windpipe (trachea). Inside the larynx are your vocal cords - two folds of mucous membrane covering muscle and cartilage.

Normally, your vocal cords open and close smoothly, forming sounds through their movement and vibration. But when your vocal cords become inflamed or irritated, they swell, causing distortion of the sounds produced by air passing over them. As a result, your voice sounds hoarse. In some cases, your voice can become so faint as to be undetectable.

Laryngitis may be short-lived (acute) or long-lasting (chronic). Although acute laryngitis usually is nothing more than an irritation, persistent hoarseness can signal a more serious problem.

Signs and symptoms 

Laryngitis often makes you feel the need to constantly clear your throat. Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Hoarseness

  • Weak voice

  • Tickling sensation and rawness of your throat

  • Sore throat

  • Dry throat

  • Dry cough

Causes 

Usually, a viral infection causes acute laryngitis. A bacterial infection also may be the cause, but this is less common. Acute laryngitis may also occur during the course of or after another illness, such as a cold, flu or pneumonia.

Common causes of chronic laryngitis include constant irritation from excessive alcohol, heavy smoking or reflux of stomach acid into the esophagus and throat, a condition called esophageal reflux disease.

Risk factors 

The following factors place you at greater risk of developing laryngitis:

  • Having a respiratory infection, such as a cold, influenza, bronchitis or sinusitis

  • Exposure to irritating substances, such as cigarette smoke, excessive alcohol, stomach acid or workplace chemicals

  • Overusing your voice, by speaking too much, speaking too loudly, shouting or singing

When to seek medical advice 

Laryngitis is usually a temporary problem that either improves by itself or clears after treatment. You can manage most acute cases of laryngitis with self-care steps, such as resting your voice, drinking plenty of fluids and sucking on lozenges. If hoarseness lasts for more than two weeks, see your doctor.

If your child develops laryngitis and has a high-grade fever, won't eat or drink, is drooling excessively, or has trouble breathing, see your doctor right away.

Laryngitis > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
In no event will The DrEddyClinic.com be liable for any decision made or action taken in reliance upon the information provided through this web site.

 

 



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Last Modified : 03/15/08 01:18 AM