Ear Nose & Throat

Common Conditions of the Larynx (Voice Box)

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    38 Irrawaddy Road
    #04-21/22/34 Mount Elizabeth
    Novena Specialist Centre
    Singapore 329563
    Tel: 6933 0451
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  • October 3, 2022
  • 1 minute read

The larynx, or voice box, is a hollow tube-like structure that transports air from the throat (pharynx) to the trachea and lungs. It is made up of cartilage, muscles, and mucous membranes, and is situated at the top of the windpipe (trachea) and the base of the tongue. The larynx contains vocal cords that produce speech and channel food into the digestive system through a flap or valve called the epiglottis, which prevents food or liquid from entering the lungs.

Various conditions or disorders may affect the larynx, with hoarseness being the most common symptom. A loss of voice, severe throat pain, and difficulty breathing may also occur. Several risk factors contribute to voice disorders, including allergies, alcohol abuse, smoking, throat dehydration, and improper throat clearing.

The following are some of the most common laryngeal conditions:


Laryngitis can have acute or chronic manifestations and is characterized by swelling and inflammation of the larynx. Viral infections like colds, overuse, acid reflux, smoking, and allergic reactions or exposure to irritants are a few factors that may contribute to this condition. Individuals with this condition will experience hoarseness or almost indiscernible voice sounds.

Benign Vocal Cord Lesions

Non-cancerous benign vocal cord lesions often develop due to misuse and overuse of the voice, leading to vocal fold trauma. Lesions or bumps found on the vocal cord can affect vocal cord vibrations and can cause hoarseness in the voice. The most common lesions on the vocal cords can be classified into three types: nodules, polyps, and cysts.

Vocal Cord Paralysis

The paralysis of the vocal cord may occur due to a viral infection that affects the vocal cord nerves, an injury to a nerve during surgery, stroke, or cancer. An atrophied vocal cord can impede speech and cause breathing and swallowing difficulties if it is paralysed in a nearly open position. Generally, vocal cord paralysis is a mild condition, with some patients recovering over a period of time. On the other hand, permanent paralysis will require surgery or therapy.

Spasmodic Dysphonia

Spasmodic dysphonia refers to an involuntary spasm or contraction of muscles within the voice box or larynx. These conditions cause individuals to have difficulty speaking or to have their voices sound strained, hoarse, quivery, whispery, or jerky.

Laryngeal Cancer

One of the most common cancers of the head and neck occurring in people over the age of 60 is laryngeal cancer. Squamous cell carcinomas account for the majority of laryngeal cancers, which originate in the laryngeal squamous cells. Unless detected early, this type of cancer has the potential to spread to nearby lymph nodes.

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