What is Laryngitis?

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx. Your larynx is more commonly known as your voice box. The condition occurs as a result of developing an infection, irritation, or simply overuse of the vocal cords. There vocal cords are found inside the larynx. The vocal cords normally open and close smoothly which produces our normal talking voices. However, when you have laryngitis, the vocal cords become irritated and inflamed. As a result, the vocal cords swell and this produces an abnormal talking voice which sounds hoarse. In severe cases of the condition, you may lose your voice completely.


People most often develop laryngitis during the months of cold and flu season. When you develop the condition, symptoms usually last a couple of weeks and are the result of a virus. However, some people develop symptoms that are caused by something more serious than a virus and last for longer than a couple of weeks.

The signs and symptoms of laryngitis may include hoarseness, weak voice or voice loss, tickling sensation and rawness of your throat, sore throat, dry throat, and a dry cough. The symptoms of the condition can be more serious and may include having trouble breathing, coughing up blood, having a fever that does not go away, having increasing pain, or having trouble swallowing. If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.

There are two types of laryngitis: acute laryngitis and chronic laryngitis. With acute laryngitis, the condition is often temporary and the symptoms usually get better once the underlying cause of acute laryngitis gets better. Acute laryngitis may be caused by a viral infection (similar to those that cause a cold), vocal strain (which is caused by yelling or overusing your voice), bacterial infections (such as diphtheria).  

Chronic laryngitis is laryngitis that lasts longer than three weeks. This type of laryngitis is usually caused by being exposed to some type of irritant over a long period of time. People who develop chronic laryngitis need to be careful because it can cause strain on your vocal cords, as well as polyps or nodules on the vocal cords. Polyps or nodules may develop as a result of inhaling irritants (such as chemical fumes, allergens or smoke), acid reflux (also called gastroesophageal reflux disease), chronic sinusitis, excessive alcohol use, habitual overuse of your voice, or smoking. Other less common causes of chronic laryngitis may include bacterial or fungal infections, or infections with certain parasites.