Laryngitis is swelling of the voice box, including the vocal cords. Vocal cords normally create sounds by opening and closing. Swelling makes movement of the vocal cords difficult which makes you sound hoarse or prevents sounds at all.
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Laryngitis is caused by irritation, overuse, or infection of the voice box. Some of the most common irritants include:
Less often laryngitis may be caused by certain medical conditions such as:
- Noncancerous growths on the focal cords
- Functional dysphonia—abnormal use of the vocal mechanisms despite normal anatomy
- Laryngeal papilloma—growths on the larynx caused by HPV infection
- Muscle tension dysphonia—a voice disorder caused by excessive or unequal tension while speaking
- Reinkes edema—an accumulation of fluid in the vocal cords, usually associated with smoking
- Spasmodic dysphonia—a condition resulting in irregular voice breaks
- Vocal cord paralysis—weakness or immobility of the vocal cords
- Autoimmune and granulomatous conditions
Last reviewedSeptember 2013by David Horn, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.