Laryngitis is a medical condition that leads to inflammation of the voice box that is larynx. The inflammation normally stems from overuse, irritation or infections in the voice box. The medical term for a variety of disorders that affects the voice box is dysphonia and laryngitis belongs to this group of diseases. Laryngitis is characterized by a hoarse voice or raspy voice in the patients and in the extreme cases it can lead to total loss of voice. This is because of the repetitive irritation of the vocal cords or the vocal folds. A patient with laryngitis may sometimes struggle to speak yet nothing is heard.
The larynx is located at the entrance of the trachea or the windpipe. The larynx is tube like in nature. Externally the larynx is what is known as the Adam’s apple, a lump that protrudes at the front of the throat especially in males. The larynx has three main functions. The first function is providing a passage for air into the windpipe during the breathing process. The next is to act as the windpipe valve. It is responsible for closing the windpipe during saliva, liquid or food swallow and any other solid from entering the windpipe which would choke or trigger coughing. Most importantly, it is at the larynx where vocal cords are contained. These are flaps or folds which vibrate depending on how air passes through them to produce the sound of ones voice. The vocal cords are unique in a way from person to person which explains why voice differs from person to person. Any problem with the larynx will impact negatively on all the physiological functions of the larynx.
Laryngitis can be categorized into two types depending on the intensity. An acute laryngitis will lasts for only a few days. Laryngitis that lasts for more a fortnight is usually termed chronic. The chronic laryngitis rare in young people but is much more common in middle aged people especially smokers and men than women.