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Laryngitis in Adult
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Laryngitis in Adult

Contributors: Madeline Goosmann, Paul C. Bryson MD, MBA
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Laryngitis is inflammation of the larynx causing hoarseness of voice. It may have an acute presentation, typically caused by upper respiratory infection or phonotraumatic behaviors, or a chronic presentation lasting over 3 weeks. Chronic causes include prolonged phonotrauma, repeated exposure to inhaled irritants including smoking, chronic sinusitis with postnasal drip, chronic alcohol use disorder, laryngopharyngeal reflux, or chronic coughing.

Patients typically present with the following symptoms:
  • Hoarseness, dysphonia
  • Globus sensation
  • Throat clearing
  • Voice change
  • Pharyngitis
  • Postnasal drip
  • Dry cough
  • Dry throat
  • Dysphagia
Signs such as edema and hemorrhage may be present in patients with vocal cord trauma. Other known etiologies for laryngitis include infection, caustic / toxic ingestion, and inhalation.

Chronic laryngitis can present similarly to malignancy, so it is important to rule this out when clinical suspicion is present. While the prevalence of acute laryngitis is difficult to estimate with lack of reporting and conservative treatment measures, the annual incidence of chronic laryngitis is estimated to be 3.47 per 1000 people.

Infectious diseases to consider are croup, epiglottitis, diphtheria, pertussis, laryngeal tuberculosis, syphilis, leprosy, actinomycosis, candidiasis, blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis, and histoplasmosis. Geographic and travel history can be useful in differentiating fungal infections.

Immunocompromised Patient Considerations:
Immunocompromised individuals are at particular risk for infectious laryngitis, particularly invasive fungal infection.


J04.0 – Acute laryngitis

45913009 – Laryngitis

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Last Reviewed:09/05/2019
Last Updated:09/05/2019
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Laryngitis in Adult
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