With laryngitis, “laryng-” refers to the larynx and “-itis” refers to inflammation.
So, laryngitis is inflammation of the larynx, something that especially affects children.
It’s further classified into acute if it lasts less than three weeks, and chronic if it lasts more than three weeks.
The larynx is located in the upper portion of the neck, just below where the pharynx splits into the trachea and the esophagus.
The larynx is also called the voice box because it contains the vocal cords, which are two folds of mucous membrane that can open and close like curtains.
When they are closed, air pressure builds up below them, causing them to vibrate and produce sound when we speak.
Like the rest of the respiratory tract, the walls of the larynx are made up of mucosal epithelium.
The mucosal epithelium contains goblet cells, which produce mucus to trap small foreign particles as well as columnar cells, which have cilia, which are tiny little hair like projections that moves mucus up the respiratory tract so it can be coughed out.
Acute laryngitis is most common and it’s usually due to an upper respiratory tract infection, most often due to a virus.
These viruses are the same ones that cause the common cold like rhinovirus, coronavirus, influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus- or RSV for short, and parainfluenza virus.
Bacterial infections are another cause of acute laryngitis, and sometimes they can develop during or right after a viral infection - that’s called a superinfection.
Common bacterial causes include Group A streptococcus, Streptococcus pneumoniae, or Haemophilus influenzae.