Laryngitis is a condition that occurs when larynx, commonly called a voice box, and vocal cords become swollen and inflammed1. The enlarged vocal cords and larynx alter how air moves through the throat, creating symptoms of laryngitis2 which can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term). Acute laryngitis comes on suddenly and resolves within a few days or up to one week, while chronic laryngitis can develop more slowly and last for weeks or even months1. Research3 suggests that certain chronic bacterial laryngitis infections are increasing in prevalence.
Numerous conditions can cause laryngitis. Acute episodes are commonly caused by viral infections, a cold, or the flu. Overuse of the voice can also cause acute inflammation. Chronic laryngitis can be caused by the following conditions1:
- Acid reflux
- Bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection
- Chronic sinusitis
- Excessive coughing
- Exposure to inhaled irritants
- High alcohol intake
- Habitual overuse of voice
- Smoking, including secondhand smoke
- Inhaled steroid medicines
Symptoms of laryngitis include hoarseness, loss of voice, a raw or irritated throat, dry cough, fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and difficulty swallowing2. If symptoms persist over two weeks, you should be evaluated by a physician. Laryngitis is diagnosed by a physical assessment consisting of an examination of the ear, nose, throat, and voice. In some cases, a laryngoscope can be used to assess for the presence of nodules or polyps on the vocal cords. Patients who experience chronic symptoms will likely require a referral to an otolaryngologist, more commonly called an ENT specialist.
Treatment can vary depending on the cause of laryngitis. Treatment can range from rest and hydration to antibiotics and even surgery. Typically, antibiotics are not used in acute episodes. Inhaled steroids can be prescribed to help reduce inflammation in the throat. Treatment options can be more extensive for chronic laryngitis1. Surgery may be required in cases where the vocal cords are damaged from polyp or nodule growths1.
When To Be Seen
If you experience recurrent episodes of laryngitis or have been diagnosed with chronic laryngitis, you should be seen by an ENT specialist. If you live in the South Florida area contact Dr. Carreño’s office and set up a consultation. Dr. Carreño has extensive experience managing and treating patients with chronic laryngitis and will gladly address your questions and concerns. Contact Dr. Carreño’s office to set up a consultation today.