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Laryngitis

Laryngitis

What is Laryngitis?

Inflammation of the vocal cords can alter the way the vocal cords come together and vibrate, causing voice changes. Voice change caused by laryngitis, or voice box inflammation, can be accompanied by constant throat pain or pain with talking or swallowing.

What are the causes of Laryngitis?

  • Infection: Viral, bacterial or fungal infections of the voice box (some inhaled medications can increase the risk of voice box infections)

  • Voice overuse: Using the voice too much or using poor vocal technique

  • Inhaled irritants/environmental factors

  • Autoimmune disorders: several different autoimmune disorders, including granulomatosis with polyagniitis (Wegener’s disease) or pemphigoid/pemphigus, can cause vocal cord inflammation

  • Amyloidosis can cause the formation of inflammatory masses on the vocal cords

  • Laryngopharyngeal reflux (LPR): Stomach contents that come up into the throat from the esophagus can cause vocal cord inflammation and voice changes. Other symptoms common in patients with LPR include a sore or dry throat, frequent throat clearing, a sensation of mucous or phlegm in the throat and chronic dry cough. Both acid and non-acid enzymes from the stomach can cause irritation of the throat and vocal cords.

Laryngitis Treatment

Based upon your diagnosis after a complete workup, an individual treatment plan will be developed.  Treatment options include:

  • Medication to clear up a suspected infection

  • Voice therapy with a speech-language pathologist to improve the care and use of your voice.

  • Avoidance of irritants or environmental allergies that caused the laryngitis and a possible follow-up appointment with an allergist to diagnose and treat any allergies may be indicated.

  • Patients with amyloidosis may require surgical resection of the abnormal growths to improve your voice symptoms and to keep your airway open.

  • Patients with LPR often respond well to a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications. Diagnosis of LPR may require a pharyngeal pH probe, a small wire that goes through your nose and sits in the back of the throat for 24 hours to measure acid levels. Conversely, you may be referred to a gastroenterologist for this workup. If formal testing shows you have LPR and you do not respond to conservative treatments, you may be referred to general surgery for consideration of anti-reflux surgery.

  • Any diagnoses made for patients with autoimmune disorders are based upon biopsies or blood work and will be discussed with you and may involve referral to a rheumatologist to discuss treatment options.

  • Some patients will be treated with oral steroids with or without voice rest to help diagnose an inflammatory voice problem.  However, for long-term voice problems secondary to vocal fold inflammation, it is best to avoid long-term steroid use if possible and to treat any underlying problems.

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