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Laryngitis

Definition

Laryngitis is swelling of the voice box, including the vocal cords. Vocal cords normally create sounds by opening and closing. Swelling makes movement of the vocal cords difficult which makes you sound hoarse or prevents sounds at all.
The Larynx
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Causes

Laryngitis is caused by irritation, overuse, or infection of the voice box. Some of the most common irritants include:
Less often laryngitis may be caused by certain medical conditions such as:

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of laryngitis include:

Symptoms

Laryngitis may cause:

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most laryngitis can be diagnosed by your symptoms and history. Your doctor may recommend further tests if you have:
You may be referred to a specialist, if your laryngitis does not have an easily identified cause or cure.
Your voice box may be examined with a flexible, lighted scope. Other tests may also be done to evaluate swallowing or other processes related to normal voice.

Treatment

Laryngitis will often go away on its own once the underlying cause is managed. Underlying causes may require medication, treatment, or simply time.
Swelling and discomfort of the vocal cords can be managed with home care such as:
Other steps will depend on the cause of laryngitis, for example:

Voice Therapy

Voice therapy may be needed to treat some voice problems such as regular vocal overuse or chronic laryngitis. Voice therapy consists of:
  • Voice education
  • Healthy use of the voice
  • Instruction in proper voice technique and use of the breathing muscles

Prevention

You may not be able to prevent some of the illnesses and disorders that can cause laryngitis. To prevent and treat mild hoarseness related to laryngitis:

RESOURCES

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Public Health Agency of Canada http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

References

Acute laryngitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: hhttp://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated June 24, 2011. Accessed January 3, 2013.

Common problems that can affect your voice. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/common-problems-can-affect-your-voice. Accessed January 3, 2013.

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