When your larynx (voice box) becomes inflamed the medical term is laryngitis. There are many reasons why this occurs but the main ones are overuse of the voice, irritation or infection. The vocal cords become inflamed or irritated and become swollen which distorts the sounds produced when air passes over the cords. This is why your voice sounds hoarse when you have laryngitis.
There are two types of laryngitis – acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term). A viral infection or straining of the vocal cords can cause short-term laryngitis. Usually long-term laryngitis is caused by a more serious underlying medical condition.
When a person has laryngitis they may complain of hoarseness of voice, a weak voice or they may have loss voice altogether. They may experience a tickling sensation in the throat or a raw feeling in the throat. They may even say they have a sore throat, or dry throat. They may have a dry cough. Children may have difficulty breathing when they experience symptoms of laryngitis.
Causes for short-term (acute) laryngitis include colds and other viral infections such as the measles or mumps, straining the voice such as when yelling at a football game. Bacterial infections such as diphtheria are rare but can also cause acute laryngitis.
Individuals with long-term (chronic) laryngitis may have inhaled irritants that are chemical in nature, allergens in the air or irritants like cigarette smoke. Individuals with acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may also have long-term laryngitis. Individuals who suffer from chronic sinusitis may also have long-term laryngitis. Excessive use of alcohol may also cause long-term laryngitis. People who use the voice excessively such as singers or cheerleaders can also suffer from long-term laryngitis.
Other less common causes of laryngitis include fungal infections, parasitic infections and cancer. Injuries to the vocal cord area can cause vocal cord paralysis. Suffering a stroke, or having a lung tumor can also cause laryngitis.
People, who have respiratory infections, are exposed to irritants such as second-hand cigarette smoke, or workplace chemicals are also at risk for laryngitis.
Usually resting the voice, drinking lots of liquids and sucking on lozenges as well as breathing humidified air will heal the vocal cords and resolve the laryngitis. If laryngitis lasts for more than two weeks a medical professional should be consulted.
If a child with laryngitis also has symptoms of croup they should be given immediate medical attention. Symptoms of croup include noisy, high-pitched breathing sounds when inhaling, drooling more than normal, trouble swallowing, difficulty breathing, and a fever higher than 103 F (39 C).
Mayo Clinic Laryngitis http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/laryngitis/DS00366/DSECTION=when-to-seek-medical-advice