This is inflammation and/or swelling of the larynx (voice box). It can lead to hoarseness or difficulty speaking.

This is inflammation and/or swelling of the larynx (voice box). It can lead to hoarseness or difficulty speaking.

Laryngitis is caused by inflammation of the larynx, also known as the voice box. The larynx is located in the top part of the airway, between the trachea and the pharynx. It contains the vocal cords, which are necessary for speech. Laryngitis is most commonly caused by a viral infection, such as the common cold. Some other causes of laryngitis may include:

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (when acid from the stomach comes in contact with the larynx)
  • Allergies
  • Bacterial infection
  • Injury to the vocal cords (e.g., from overuse)
  • Respiratory irritants (including smoking)Croup and epiglottitis are relatively common airway problems that occur in young children. Their symptoms occur suddenly and are more severe than those of laryngitis in adults. Epiglottitis can be life-threatening.

The viruses and bacteria that can cause laryngitis are usually spread from person to person. To help prevent laryngitis:

  • Avoid close contact with people who have upper respiratory infections
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid irritants and overuse (such as prolonged shouting)

Smoking is an irritant that can frequently lead to laryngitis and hoarseness. If you smoke, quitting can decrease your risk of developing laryngitis, hoarseness, and/or cancer of the larynx or throat.

Other symptoms that can occur with laryngitis are due to the infection that caused the condition. These symptoms include fever, swollen glands in the neck, cough and sore throat. To treat your symptoms, you can try:

  • Resting your voice
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Gargling with salt water
  • Drinking plenty of liquids
  • Eating a soft diet
  • Using a cool mist humidifiers
  • Sucking on hard candy or throat lozenges (for older children and adults)

If you smoke, quit! Smokers are much more likely to get conditions that cause inflammation of the larynx.

Make an appointment with your healthcare provider if your laryngitis happens suddenly, you have high fever or you have been seen but are not getting better.

  • Bring a copy of your medical history (past illnesses, surgeries, and hospitalizations).
  • Bring a list of your medications (including over-the-counter).
  • Write down any questions, symptoms or concerns you want to talk about.
  • If your healthcare provider prescribes a medication for you, ask for a generic version. If your doctor thinks that a generic version is not right for you, ask for a medication on the lowest available tier of your Prescription Drug List (PDL).

What should I ask my healthcare provider about my symptoms?

  • What is causing my difficulty speaking?
  • Do I need any special tests? What are the benefits and risks of having the tests? Will the results of the tests change my treatment plan?
  • What are my treatment options and their side effects? What are the goals of my treatment?
  • Are there any things I can do to improve or lessen my symptoms?
  • When should I start to see improvement in my symptoms?
  • Do I need to see a specialist? What types of treatments do they offer?


Also known as:

Throat Irritation
Speaking Difficulty
Sore Throat
Scratchy Throat
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