Acute laryngitis

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

Chronic laryngitis

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)
  • Smoking

Less common causes of chronic laryngitis include:

  • Bacterial or fungal infections
  • Infections with certain parasites

Other causes of chronic hoarseness include:

  • Cancer
  • Vocal cord paralysis, which can result from injury, stroke, a lung tumor or other health conditions
  • Bowing of the vocal cords in old age
Jun. 28, 2012

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