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January 10, 2024

Acute laryngitis is a common condition characterized by the inflammation of the larynx. This often results in hoarseness or loss of voice. It is caused by excessive use, irritation, or infection. 

The vocal cords are two folds of mucous membranes that cover muscle and cartilage inside the larynx. Your voice chords normally open and close smoothly, creating sounds through movement and vibration.

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, also known as the “ voice box”. When your voice cords are overworked, inflamed, or infected, the condition might develop.

When your vocal cords are working properly, they open and close smoothly, producing sounds via vibration. When your vocal cords swell, the sounds that flow through them become distorted. As a result, your voice sounds hoarse or weak.

Who can get laryngitis?

Anyone can get laryngitis. You are more likely to develop this condition if:

  • You are a heavy drinker.
  • Use of your voice excessively.
  • You are on inhaled steroids and at risk for fungal laryngitis.
  • Exposed to tobacco smoke.
  • You have a respiratory infection like sinusitis or bronchitis.
  • You are immunocompromised

What are the symptoms of laryngitis?

Laryngitis symptoms, in most cases, last only a few weeks and are caused by a mild infection, such as a virus. Symptoms are sometimes triggered by something more serious or long-lasting. Among the indications and symptoms of laryngitis are:

  • a dry cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Tickling sensation and throat rawness
  • Voice loss or deterioration
  • Throat irritation and discomfort

What causes laryngitis?

Laryngitis can arise for a variety of reasons. However, the causes of laryngitis might differ depending on whether your illness is acute or chronic:

Acute laryngitis causes

Most laryngitis is temporary. They improve right after the underlying cause gets better. 

Most cases of laryngitis are temporary and improve after the underlying cause gets better. Acute laryngitis can be caused by a variety of factors, including

  • Viral infections
  • Temporary vocal strain from singing, yelling, or frequent speaking.
  • Candida (yeast) infections
  • Bacterial infections

Chronic laryngitis causes

When laryngitis persists beyond three weeks, it’s chronic laryngitis. This form of laryngitis is typically the result of prolonged exposure to irritants. Thus, leading to vocal cord strain, injuries, or the development of growths like polyps or nodules on the vocal cords. 

Chronic laryngitis can be caused by

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Persistent overuse of your voice
  • Inhaled irritants such as smoke, allergens, and chemical fumes
  • GERD (chronic acid reflux)
  • Heavy drinking
  • Smoking

Less prevalent causes include:

  • Infections with certain parasites
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection

Chronic hoarseness can also be caused by:

  • Vocal cord paralysis (can occur as a result of nerve damage caused by injuries, surgery, nerve disorders, cancer, or other medical illnesses).
  • The vocal cords bowing

How is laryngitis treated?

Laryngitis usually goes away on its own after a week or two. Resting your voice and being hydrated are the most effective ways to recover. In some circumstances, your doctor may prescribe drugs to hasten the healing process.

What medications are used for laryngitis treatment?

The choice of medication depends on the symptoms. Your healthcare provider may suggest:

  1. Antibiotics: If laryngitis stems from a bacterial infection, antibiotics may be prescribed.
  2. Pain relievers: OTC pain relievers can be taken if symptoms include discomfort. These include:
  3. acetaminophen
  4. naproxen
  5. ibuprofen 
  • Antifungals: In cases linked to candida or yeast infections, antifungal medications may be recommended.
  • Corticosteroids: These drugs help reduce swelling and inflammation. It may be prescribed in specific situations.

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