Causes and Diagnosis
Causes and Diagnoses of Laryngitis
When you talk or sing, air passes through your vocal cords from the lungs, causing the vocal cords to vibrate and produce sound. Inflammation of the vocal cords causes the voice changes and pain associated with laryngitis. Causes of that inflammation include:
- Viral or bacterial respiratory infection
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Smoking or other respiratory irritants
- Vocal polyps
- Vocal nodules caused by overuse
- Allergies, especially with post-nasal drip
In rare cases, causes can include:
- Neurological disorders, including stroke
- Underactive thyroid disease
- Trauma to the larynx
Hoarseness is often a natural part of the aging process or can be associated with hormonal changes during menstruation.
If your laryngitis does not go away on its own and you seek medical attention, your physician may use one of the following tests to diagnose the cause of your condition.
- Laryngoscopy: Using a light and a tiny mirror inserted in your throat, your physician can look for irregularities on your vocal cords and watch how they vibrate.
- Fiber-optic laryngoscopy: An endoscope (a thin, lighted tube with a camera attached to it) is passed through your mouth and into your larynx. This allows your physician to see the surface of your vocal cords.
- Biopsy: Your physician may perform a biopsy (obtain small tissue samples) by using forceps (tiny tweezers) that are passed through the endoscope. A pathologist will examine the sample to determine if the tissues are abnormal.