acute laryngitis

Last reviewed 01/2018

Acute laryngitis

  • usually caused by
    • infection
      • viral
        • is the most common cause of acute laryngitis
        • most often due to rhinovirus, adenovirus, influenza, and parainfluenza.
      • bacterial
        • difficult to differentiate from viral causes,
        • both viral and bacterial infections may co-exist - viral illness allowing opportunistic bacterial superinfection
        • common organisms - Haemophilus influenza B (HiB), Streptococcus pneumonia, Staphylococcus aureus, Moraxella catarrhalis
      • fungal
        • accounts for around 10% of presentations
        • recent use of antibiotics and use of inhaled corticosteroids are considered as risk factors
        • laryngeal examination may reveal - whitish speckling of the supraglottis or glottis, diffuse laryngeal erythema and oedema (may occur without these plaques)
        • candidiasis should be differentiated from other conditions such as hyperkeratosis, leucoplakia, and malignancy,
    • trauma (1)
      • caused by excessive voice use or misuse during phonation e.g - yelling, screaming, forceful singing
      • other methods such as blunt or penetrating trauma, chronic coughing, or habitual throat clearing may also be responsible

It is more common in the winter months. The condition is usually preceded by an initial infective insult, for example, a common cold or influenza

  • any area within the larynx maybe involved - supraglottis (epiglottis, arytenoids, and false vocal folds), the glottis (true vocal folds), and subglottic regions
  • in a child, this condition may cause sufficient subglottic oedema to cause airway obstruction (2)

Predisposing factors include:

  • over-use of the voice
  • smoking
  • drinking spirits