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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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:
  • Noncancerous growths on the vocal cords
  • Functional dysphonia—abnormal use of the vocal mechanisms despite normal anatomy
  • Laryngeal papilloma—growths on the larynx caused by HPV infection
  • Muscle tension dysphonia—a voice disorder caused by excessive or unequal tension while speaking
  • Reinkes edema—an accumulation of fluid in the vocal cords, usually associated with smoking
  • Spasmodic dysphonia—a condition resulting in irregular voice breaks
  • Vocal cord paralysis—weakness or immobility of the vocal cords
  • Autoimmune and granulomatous conditions

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of laryngitis include:
  • Upper respiratory tract infection—often caused by a virus, like a cold
  • Yelling, singing, and speaking loudly for extended periods of time
  • Inhaling airborne irritants—such as cigarette smoke or chemicals
  • Allergies to dust, mold, and pollen
  • Uncontrolled gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—stomach acid that rises up in the throat
  • Using inhaled asthma medications
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Bacterial or fungal infections—much less common

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