Laryngitis is inflammation of the mucous membrane of the larynx, characterized by voice hoarseness. The larynx joins the back of the throat to the trachea (windpipe). The vocal cords are in the larynx. Laryngitis means inflammation of the larynx. It is most commonly due to to a viral infection (viral laryngitis). Other causes are uncommon. Laryngitis may also be caused by voice overuse with excess talking, singing, or shouting. Laryngitis that lasts less than three weeks is referred to as acute laryngitis, and is often associated with an upper respiratory infection due to a virus, or more rarely, bacteria. Chronic laryngitis, often described as lasting for more than three weeks may be caused by prolonged alcohol use, smoking, constant exposure to secondhand smoke, exposure to polluted air, and excess coughing.