Laryngitis | Otolaryngology (ENT) | Loyola Medicine

Laryngitis

Overview and Facts about Laryngitis

Laryngitis develops when the larynx, or voice box, becomes inflamed. When this part of the throat is inflamed, it can cause your voice to become hoarse. You may even lose your voice completely.

Most cases of laryngitis are temporary. Common causes of laryngitis include upper-respiratory infections and vocal strain.

Laryngitis usually clears up within two weeks. But sometimes, laryngitis can be a symptom of a more serious condition that requires medical treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Laryngitis

Common symptoms of laryngitis can include:

  • Dry cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Sore throat
  • Weak voice

Laryngitis is often triggered by a viral or bacterial infection. If you have an infection, your throat may feel dry or ticklish.

You may also have other symptoms of a cold or flu, such as a fever, runny nose or swollen glands.

Many people with laryngitis report that the pitch of their voice has changed. Others find it difficult to raise their voice or shout. These symptoms usually disappear within a week or two.

But if your symptoms persist for more than two weeks, contact your doctor. Your laryngitis may be a sign of an underlying medical problem.

Causes and Risk Factors of Laryngitis

Most cases of laryngitis are caused by a minor infection, or vocal trauma. Vocal trauma can happen if you do a lot of screaming, shouting or singing.

Some people also develop laryngitis after speaking for an extended period. If your job requires a lot of talking or singing, you may be at a higher risk for laryngitis.

Laryngitis may also be linked to certain medical conditions, including:

Laryngitis sometimes develops after exposure to inhaled irritants. People who smoke are at a higher risk of developing laryngitis.

Exposure to dust or aerosolized chemicals can also trigger laryngitis.

Tests and Diagnosis of Laryngitis

Most cases of laryngitis resolve on their own. But if your laryngitis lasts for more than two weeks, your doctor may recommend further tests.

An endoscopy can help reveal problems in your throat and esophagus. During this test, your doctor threads a thin, flexible camera down your throat.

If your doctor detects any abnormal tissue in your throat, he or she may also perform a biopsy to check for cancer.

Your doctor may refer you to a physician who specializes in otolaryngology (ENT medicine). An ENT doctor can help determine what's causing your symptoms.

Treatment and Care of Laryngitis

If you have laryngitis, the doctor may tell you to rest your voice as much as possible. Breathing in moist air and drinking plenty of fluids can help.

If you have an underlying infection, your doctor may also prescribe antibiotics.

If your laryngitis is due to another medical condition, like GERD or LPRD, your doctor can help you develop a treatment plan.

These conditions are often managed through dietary changes and prescription medication.