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    Voice Disorders - Acute and Chronic Laryngitis

    Overview
    Causes
    Risk Factors
    Symptoms
    Diagnosis
    Treatment
    Where To Seek Treatment
    Singapore General Hospital
    Contributed by Dept of Otolaryngology
    Singapore General Hospital

    Overview

    overuse voiceVoice disorders are medical conditions that affect the function of the vocal folds (vocal cords) and voice production. Common causes of voice disorders include :

    1. Acute and chronic laryngitis
    2. Growths such as nodules, polyps, cysts or tumours
    3. Vocal fold paralysis
    4. Muscle tension imbalance

    Acute and Chronic Laryngitis

    Laryngitis refers to inflammation of the vocal folds. This can be acute (less than three weeks) or chronic (more than three weeks).  


    Causes

    Acute laryngitis:

    • Viral infection of the upper airway (usually viruses that cause a cold)
    • Vocal strain e.g. due to yelling and overuse of voice

    Chronic laryngitis:

    • Smoking or other inhaled irritants such as chemical fumes and allergens
    • Reflux of acid from the stomach into the larynx (laryngopharyngeal reflux)
    • Inflammation or infection of the sinuses
    • Occupational voice abuse (people who use their voices a lot in their work)

    Less common causes of laryngitis:

    • Bacterial or fungal infection.

    Risk Factors

    • Respiratory tract infections, such as colds, sinusitis and bronchitis
    • Exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, stomach acid, or chemical fumes
    • Overusing the voice

    Symptoms

    • Hoarse voice
    • Dry, tickly throat
    • Frequent throat clearing
    • Dry cough
    • Sore throat

    Diagnosis

    Laryngitis is diagnosed by a combination of history and physical examination. Your specialist may pass a nasoendoscope (a thin scope with a camera at the end of it) through the nose down to the voice box under local anaesthesia. Common findings include redness and swelling of the vocal folds.


    Treatment

    Treatment of laryngitis depends on the underlying cause. Avoiding exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke, resting the voice and treating underlying causes such as a cold, sinusitis or acid reflux will be enough in most cases.

    Medication may be prescribed to treat acid reflux. Occasionally, steroids may be prescribed to reduce swelling in the larynx if urgent voice restoration is required. Antibiotics are usually not needed as laryngitis is not usually caused by bacterial infection.

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