Terms for Disorders of the Pharynx, Larynx & Voice

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  • 0:01 A Change in Voice
  • 0:26 Pharyngitis & Laryngitis
  • 1:23 Laryngoplegia & Laryngospasm
  • 2:44 Aphonia & Dysphonia
  • 3:44 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to cover several different terms related to disorders affecting the throat and voice box: pharyngitis, laryngitis, laryngospasms, laryngoplegia, aphonia, and dysphonia.

A Change in Voice

Have you ever had your voice change for some reason? It could've been because you were just a boy growing up. Perhaps it was because you were screaming your head off at a concert, or maybe your nose was stuffy. Those are the more common reasons, but there are plenty of other conditions and disorders that may affect the voice, voice box, or throat, some of which can change a person's voice. Let's take a look at them.

Pharyngitis & Laryngitis

When you get sick with the flu or cold, you probably have pharyngitis, the inflammation of the pharynx. Since pharynx is a technical term for your throat, the common term for pharyngitis is, thus, a sore throat. The word part of 'pharyng/o' clearly refers to the pharynx. The suffix of '-itis' stands for inflammation, and it's also part of the word for the inflammation of the larynx, laryngitis, where 'laryng/o' means larynx, the voice box.

If you've ever had laryngitis, then you've almost certainly experienced a vocal change. You probably sounded a bit hoarse. Laryngitis is commonly caused by a viral infection, but can also be triggered by overusing your voice, like when you have a bit too much fun at a club or rock concert. Eventually, you would've noticed your voice came back to normal since most cases of laryngitis resolve on their own and pose no serious problem.

Laryngoplegia & Laryngospasm

What is a more serious problem, however, is laryngoplegia, paralysis of the larynx, where '-plegia' means paralysis. People with laryngoplegia not only have difficulty speaking and changes to their voice but also difficulty breathing and eating. Laryngoplegia can be caused by surgery; an injury near the neck or upper chest; neurological disorders, like Parkinson's disease; tumors; stroke; and some viral infections.

A laryngospasm is a spasmodic closure of the larynx, where '-spasm' implies a sudden and involuntary contraction of something else. This is just as unpleasant as laryngoplegia because it makes it difficult to breathe and speak. There may be moments when the person cannot speak or breathe at all during such an episode.

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