Laryngitis Causes and Risk Factors

Laryngitis is generally of two types, acute laryngitis and chronic laryngitis. The symptoms in acute laryngitis lasts less than three weeks, but in chronic laryngitis symptoms lasts for much longer duration.

Causes of acute laryngitis:

Most of the time acute laryngitis lasts for a short period of less than three weeks and gets better when the underlying cause is removed. The common causes are:

  • Viral infection, which may be similar to common cold
  • Overuse of vocal cords, as is seen among teachers, singers and other professionals engaged in excessive use of voice
  • Less commonly bacterial infection such as diphtheria (rare now a days due to successful vaccination under universal immunization program).

Causes of chronic laryngitis:

Laryngitis that lasts more than three weeks is termed as chronic laryngitis. Chronic laryngitis usually results due to chronic exposure to irritants. Chronic laryngitis may cause growth (polyp) in vocal cords or strains and injuries in vocal cords. Causes of chronic laryngitis include:

  • GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), where there is regurgitation gastric acid into the esophagus which may also lead to exposure of vocal cords to gastric acid.
  • Inhalation of irritants such as smoke, allergens or chemical fumes
  • Chronic sinusitis, which lead to chronic post-nasal drip of nasal secretions and inflammation of vocal cords or larynx.
  • Smoking
  • Excessive and regular alcohol consumption
  • Excessive use of vocal cords
  • Less common causes of chronic laryngitis include infection by fungus, bacteria and parasites
  • There are also other causes of laryngitis or hoarseness of voice such as cancer (in throat or in larynx or vocal cords), bowing of vocal cords due to old age and vocal cord paralysis due to stroke, lung tumor or other health conditions.

Risk factors of laryngitis include:

  • Exposure of larynx or vocal cords to irritants such as smoking, gastric acid (GERD), alcohol etc.
  • Respiratory infection such as bronchitis, sinusitis or common cold
  • Profession that require regular use of voice, especially overuse of voice.

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