Most cases of laryngitis are temporary and improve after the underlying cause gets better. Causes of acute laryngitis include:
- Viral infections similar to those that cause a cold
- Vocal strain, caused by yelling or overusing your voice
- Bacterial infections, such as diphtheria, although this is rare
Laryngitis that lasts longer than three weeks is known as chronic laryngitis. This type of laryngitis is generally caused by exposure to irritants over time. Chronic laryngitis can cause vocal cord strain and injuries or growths on the vocal cord (polyps or nodules). These injuries can be caused by:
- Inhaled irritants, such as chemical fumes, allergens or smoke
- Acid reflux, also called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Chronic sinusitis
- Excessive alcohol use
- Habitual overuse of your voice (such as with singers or cheerleaders)
Less common causes of chronic laryngitis include:
- Bacterial or fungal infections
- Infections with certain parasites
Other causes of chronic hoarseness include:
June 28, 2012
- Vocal cord paralysis, which can result from injury, stroke, a lung tumor or other health conditions
- Bowing of the vocal cords in old age
- Taking care of your voice. National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/voice/pages/takingcare.aspx. Accessed March 8, 2012.
- McPhee SJ, et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2012. New York, N.Y.: McGraw Hill; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=2356. Accessed March 8, 2012.
- Morton DA, et al. The Big Picture: Gross Anatomy. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=8667745. Accessed March 8, 2012.
- Fact sheet: Common problems that can affect your voice. American Academy of Otalaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/commonvoiceproblems.cfm. Accessed March 8, 2012.
- Fact sheet: The voice and aging. American Academy of Otalaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/Voice-and-Aging.cfm. Accessed March 8, 2012.
- Wang AJ, et al. Comparison of patients of chronic laryngitis with and without troublesome reflux symptoms. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 2012;27:579.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw Hill; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=9097038. Accessed March 8, 2012.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.