When you have laryngitis, your larynx (voice box) and the area around it becomes inflamed, irritated, and swollen. The swelling of your vocal chords causes the sound they make to be distorted, so that your voice sounds hoarse. You may find yourself unable to speak above a whisper, or even lose your voice entirely for a few days. Laryngitis rarely causes serious problems in adults. It’s usually caused by a cold or other virus and goes away by itself. But it can cause complications in children – notably croup, a swelling of the throat that narrows the airways and causes a “barking” cough. Chronic hoarseness could also be a sign of something more serious.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Hoarseness.
  • Loss of voice.
  • Tickling, scratchiness, and rawness in your throat.
  • A constant urge to clear your throat.
  • Dry throat or cough.
  • Fever, general feeling of lethargy and tiredness, and difficulty breathing are indications of more severe cases

Certain viruses or bacteria can infect the larynx and cause it to swell. Usually, the virus comes from another illness, such as a cold, the flu, or bronchitis. Chronic laryngitis can be caused by heavy smoking, excessive use of alcohol, or acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD), caused when stomach acid backs up into the esophagus.

Risk Factors:

  • Smoking.
  • Overusing your voice.
  • Having an upper respiratory infection like a cold, flu, or bronchitis.

Treatment Approach:

In most cases, you can treat laryngitis yourself by resting your voice. Antibiotics are almost never needed because most cases of laryngitis are caused by a virus.


  • Try to rest your voice for a week or so.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • Avoid clearing your throat as much as possible.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Use a humidifier or inhale steam from a bowl of hot water.
  • Keep your throat moist by sucking on lozenges or chewing gum.
  • Gargle several times a day with ½ tsp. of salt in a glass of warm water.

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