Laryngitis is inflammation of the larynx (voicebox) that may be acute, lasting only a few days, or chronic, persisting for a long period.


Acute laryngitis is usually caused by a viral infection, such as a cold. It can also be due to an allergy or straining the laryngeal muscles. Chronic laryngitis may be caused by overusing the voice; violent coughing; irritation from tobacco smoke or fumes; or damage during surgery. Alcohol, partic-ularly spirits, may aggravate laryngitis.


Hoarseness is the most common symptom and may progress to loss of voice. Throat pain or discomfort and a dry, irritating cough may also occur. Laryngitis due to a viral infection is often accompanied by fever and a general feeling of illness.


Treatment depends on the cause. Acute laryngitis due to a viral infection usually disappears by itself. There is no treat-ment for chronic laryngitis other than resting the voice, taking mild analgesic drugs (painkillers) if needed, using steam inhalation, and avoiding tobacco smoke and alcohol. If hoarseness persists for more than two weeks, medical advice should be sought in order to exclude the possibility of laryngeal cancer (see larynx, cancer of). In some cases, chronic laryngitis responds to speech therapy.

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