Inflammation of the voice box (larynx); can result from many causes; specific cause needs to be identified for correct diagnosis and proper treatment plan
Response to injury that results in swelling, redness, and/or pain
Body part + “-itis” means inflammation of that part
Laryngitis = larynx + itis = inflammation of the larynx
Inflammation: Body Response to Injury
Inflammation is the body’s way of healing itself in response to injury from any of a number of causes.
- Inflammation is usually characterized by swelling of the injured site (edema), redness (erythema), and pain in the area.
- Usually, once the cause of the injury is removed, the inflammation subsides when healing of the injured area is complete. However, repeated injury that causes chronic inflammation can result in other types of injury and injury response, preventing complete healing.
Laryngitis: General Term Meaning Inflammation of the Larynx
Laryngitis, or inflammation of the larynx, can have many causes. As such, a correct diagnosis of laryngitis should always indicate the cause. For example:
- Viral laryngitis: Inflammation from a viral infection
- Reflux laryngitis: Inflammation from backflow of stomach fluids (reflux) to the throat and voice box
Acute and Chronic Laryngitis
Laryngitis that is short lived is classified as acute laryngitis.
- Laryngitis that lasts longer than two to four weeks is classified as chronic laryngitis.
Location of Inflammation Depends on Cause
The location of inflammation in the larynx usually depends on the area injured by exposure to an irritant or injuring agent.
- For example: If the larynx is exposed to smoke, allergens, or environmental pollutants, then the laryngitis will involve the entire larynx. If laryngitis is due to backflow of stomach fluids (laryngopharyngeal reflux), then inflammation may be present only in the back side of the larynx.
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