What’s laryngeal papilloma?

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Laryngeal papilloma is a rare viral infection that causes wart-like growths in the throat and larynx, mainly in children. Symptoms include hoarseness, difficulty swallowing, and a nagging cough. Treatment involves antiviral medication and surgery, with laser surgery being the preferred method. Recurrence is common, and there is no known cure.

Laryngeal papilloma is a viral infection of the throat or larynx. The virus causes wart-like cancerous growths to form on the larynx, and sometimes the growths spread throughout the throat and mouth. The main risk associated with the virus is that over time the tumors can grow in size to the point of compromising breathing. Laryngeal papilloma is considered rare and occurs most commonly in children.

Little is known about what causes some children to get laryngeal papilloma, while others don’t. In cases where all children in a given family have been exposed to the human papilloma virus, not all children will get the virus. Some studies suggest that some children may be more susceptible to the virus, possibly due to genetics.

Symptoms of laryngeal papilloma in children and infants can include a weak or hoarse cry, difficulty swallowing, and sometimes a nagging cough. In some cases, breathing may be accompanied by a whistling sound, and when this occurs, it could signal that growths in the throat are starting to block the airways. Generally, this is considered a medical emergency and a doctor should be seen immediately. Adults aren’t as likely to get this condition, but when they do, adults typically exhibit many of the same symptoms common in children, such as hoarseness and cough. Also, although the condition is often recurrent in children and prone to spreading to the throat and mouth, this is rare in adults.

Treatment for laryngeal papilloma varies, but typically includes antiviral medications and surgery. In cases where the airways are at risk of being blocked, surgery is usually done first, then followed by antiviral drugs. In the very early stages of the condition, doctors usually try antiviral treatment first, in the hope that surgery can be avoided.

Surgical removal of papilloma tumors is usually done by laser. Laser surgery generally reduces the risk of scarring that could damage the voice box and throat. Also, recovery time is usually much less with laser surgery than with other more invasive procedures.

One of the most debilitating factors associated with laryngeal papilloma is that the condition tends to recur. This frequency of recurrence is much more common in children than in adults. In some cases, the growths can come back within a few weeks of being removed; in other cases, the recurrence may occur on an annual basis. There is no known cure for the virus that causes laryngeal papilloma, so continued treatment is usually needed. Laryngeal papilloma is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

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