The voice is actually sound that is made as air passes through the larynx or "voice box." When we inhale, the lungs fill up with air. Then, as we exhale during speech, the air travels up the trachea, or windpipe. As the air enters the throat it passes through the larynx, which houses the vocal cords. The movement of air through the larynx causes the cords to open and vibrate, generating sound, which is further refined by the mouth.
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx and vocal cords that is often due to infection with the virus or bacteria that cause colds and sore throats. However, laryngitis can also be caused by allergies, smoking, and voice strain due to excessive shouting or singing. Regardless of the cause, the primary symptom of laryngitis is hoarseness or loss of voice.
If laryngitis develops, drinking lots of fluids and using the voice as little as possible, by whispering or not talking altogether, can help. In addition, room humidifiers and hot showers can be of benefit. With or without treatment, laryngitis usually subsides within 7 to 10 days. Laryngitis in children and chronic laryngitis in adults may be symptomatic of other illnesses and should be evaluated by a doctor or healthcare professional.