Laryngology is a branch of medicine that deals with illnesses and injuries of your larynx (or voice box). This is a special section of otolaryngology, which focuses on the ear, nose and throat. Laryngologists are specialists in laryngology, who treat conditions ranging from laryngitis and vocal cord nodules to laryngeal cancer.
Laryngology is a medical specialty that diagnoses and treats issues with your larynx (voice box). Your larynx sits in the front of your neck. It holds your vocal cords and helps you speak, make sounds and swallow. It’s also the entrance to your windpipe and plays an important role in helping you breathe.
You might need to see a laryngologist if you have an issue with your larynx. You might think of a laryngologist as a voice box specialist or doctor.
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A laryngologist diagnoses and treats conditions affecting your larynx. They prescribe medications and deliver treatments (including performing surgeries). They educate you on ways to care for your larynx. Laryngologists coordinate care with other specialists when needed.
They treat a range of diseases affecting your larynx, including:
Laryngologists are experts at diagnosing and treating vocal cord injuries. This includes injuries from overusing or misusing your voice. They can also treat injuries related to surgeries to your neck or throat. Surgery to your thyroid gland, vascular surgery, thoracic surgery and placement of a breathing tube can all damage your larynx. A laryngologist can help.
Laryngology is a subspecialty within otolaryngology. This means that a laryngologist is an otolaryngologist (ENT) specializing in the larynx. Otolaryngologists diagnose and treat conditions affecting your ear, nose and throat. This is why they’re sometimes called ear, nose and throat specialists (ENTs). Laryngologists have expertise in voice, airway and swallowing disorders involving your voice box.
Think of it this way: All laryngologists are also otolaryngologists, but not all otolaryngologists are laryngologists.
You may meet with a laryngologist to diagnose or treat any of the following conditions:
Laryngologists complete all the training required of otolaryngologists. Then, they complete a fellowship to specialize in laryngology. Laryngologists in the U.S. need:
Your primary care provider may refer you to a laryngologist if you have breathing or swallowing issues involving your larynx. Or you may reach out to a laryngologist if you’re having symptoms, like hoarseness, that don’t improve. Frequent vocal abuse and misuse can cause changes in how your vocal cords work. These changes can cause long-term damage without treatment. If you have unexplained hoarseness that lasts longer than two to four weeks, see an otolaryngologist or laryngologist.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
All otolaryngologists train to successfully treat most conditions affecting your head and neck. This includes conditions involving your voice box. Still, depending on your condition’s complexity, it may be a good idea to see a laryngologist in particular. (Laryngology is a subspecialty within otolaryngology.) They’re the undisputed experts when it comes to your larynx. They can diagnose your condition and deliver treatment. They can also coordinate care with other specialists to ensure you receive holistic care. If you’re a person whose career depends on your vocal health — like a public speaker, actor, singer, teacher or salesperson — it’s an excellent idea to have a laryngologist on your care team.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/05/2023.
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