Laryngitis, chronic:

Laryngitis, chronic:

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:  

  • Voice abuse or misuse
  • Smoking 
  • Drinking alcohol heavily — Alcohol causes a chemical irritation of the larynx that produces changes similar to those seen in smokers.  
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Work-related exposure to irritating chemicals or dusts 

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:

  • hoarseness
  • loss of voice
  • a raw or irritated throat
  • a dry cough
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • difficulty swallowing


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:

  • a biopsy, which involves taking a small sample of throat tissue during a laryngoscopy and analyzing it in a lab
  • an X-ray, CT, or MRI scan, which are imaging tests that allow a doctor to see inside of the throat
  • blood tests, which can check for signs of other conditions

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