Medical Problems of Performing ArtistsMedical Problems of Performing Artists

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Laryngitis from Reflux: Prevention for the Performing Singer

David G. Hanson, Jack J. Jiang
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 13 Number 2: Page 51 (June 1998)

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Abstract: Laryngitis is the bane of performers and other professionals who depend on their voices for their art and livelihood. Almost every person has experienced acute laryngitis, usually associated with a viral upper-respiratory infection. Whenever there is inflammation of the vocal-fold epithelium, there is an effect on voice quality and strength. Therefore, it is important to understand the factors that can cause laryngitis, especially the preventable causes of laryngitis. Laryngitis is a generic term for inflammation or irritation of the laryngeal tissues. The inflammation can be caused by any kind of injury, including infection, smoking, contact with caustic or acidic substance, allergic reaction, or direct trauma. Inflammatory response of the tissues includes leakage of fluid from blood vessels with edema or swelling, congregation of white blood cells, which release mediators of inflammation, and engorgement of the blood vessels. Most commonly, laryngitis occurs from viral infection of the laryngeal epithelial lining associated with a typical cold. The viral infection is almost always quickly conquered by the body's immune system and lasts at most a few days. This kind of acute laryngitis rarely causes any long-term problem unless the vocal folds are damaged by overuse during the illness. Examination of the larynx will show whether the vocal folds are inflamed and allows some prediction of the degree of risk for damage. Other infections of the larynx are fortunately not common but include infections with bacteria and other organisms. It is extremely rare to have infection as the cause of a chronic vocal-fold inflammation.

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