Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, the "voice box" that contains the vocal cords in the upper portion of the neck. Laryngitis occurs in two forms, acute and chronic. Chronic laryngitis is a more persistent disorder that produces lingering hoarseness and other voice changes. It usually is painless and has no significant sign of infection.
Among adults, the most common causes of chronic laryngitis are:
Less often, chronic laryngitis can be caused by chronic sinusitis with postnasal drip. Rarely, it can be caused by an inflammatory illness or infection directly involving the vocal cords (such as sarcoidosis or tuberculosis).
Common symptoms of chronic laryngitis include:
A doctor will often carry out a physical examination to diagnose laryngitis. They may also ask about a person’s medical history and lifestyle to assess the risk of laryngitis. Some symptoms, such as hoarseness of voice, are usually easy to identify. A doctor may also conduct a laryngoscopy, which involves passing a thin tube with a camera and light through a person’s mouth or nose and down into their throat. This procedure allows the doctor to inspect the inside of the throat.
To rule out more serious conditions, such as laryngeal cancer, a doctor may also recommend:
Hoarseness, with thickening or nodules of cords, polyps, submucous infiltration, or pre-malignant changes on biopsy
Hoarseness, with inflammation of cords or mucous membrane
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