Contributors:Tanner Marshall, MS, Sam Gillespie, BSc, Antonella Melani, MD, Samantha McBundy, MFA, CMI
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 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.
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.
Swelling of the vocal cords changes the way they move - imagine two thin sheets flapping in the wind turning into two large pillows that barely move.
As a result, the vocal cords don’t move and vibrating smoothly, which causes dysphonia, or hoarse voice.
Reflux laryngitis is another cause of chronic laryngitis and develops in people with severe gastroesophageal reflux disease where acid from the stomach goes all the way up the esophagus into the pharynx.
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