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Harvard Medical School
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General Medical Questions
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Question : What is the best treatment for chronic laryngitis?
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The Trusted Source
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David M. Vernick, M.D. is assistant professor of otology and laryngology at Harvard Medical School and chief of the Division of Otology and Laryngology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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January 05, 2011
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A:

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx) that causes the sound of the voice to change. When it lasts more than two weeks it is considered chronic.

Treatment requires an accurate diagnosis of the cause. The common causes of laryngitis are:

  • Colds
  • Voice abuse
  • Acid reflux
  • Cough

There are other causes that can be serious, such as vocal cord paralysis and cancer. When laryngitis persists, a visit to your doctor is important in making the correct diagnosis.

A direct examination of the vocal cords is usually necessary. This can confirm a common cause and eliminate a more serious problem. Sometimes a video examination of the larynx is necessary to slow down and analyze the motion of the vocal cords. Treatment can then be directed at the underlying cause.

If the cause is from voice abuse, resting the voice may be enough to solve the problem. For severe and persistent cases, voice therapy may be needed.

If the cause is from acid reflux, then treating the reflux will clear up the symptoms. Treating acid reflux usually involves going to bed on an empty stomach, elevating the head of the bed and sometimes taking medication to decrease stomach acid. Even with treatment, it can take months for the symptoms to go away.

If a cough or postnasal drip is causing the laryngitis, cough suppressants and medication to decrease mucous may be helpful.

If the cause is more serious, such as a tumor of the larynx, treatment is directed at eliminating the tumor.

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laryngitis,acid reflux,cough,larynx,abuse,medication,stomach,tumor
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