by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
Laryngitis is swelling of the larynx. The larynx is the top of the windpipe where the vocal cords sit. Swelling makes it hard for the vocal cords to work. You will sound hoarse or won’t be able to make sound at all.
The swelling is most often caused by an infection. It is most often caused by a virus.
Less often laryngitis may be caused by certain medical conditions, such as:
Factors that may increase your chance of laryngitis include:
Common symptoms of laryngitis may include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. The doctor can most often make a diagnosis based on your symptoms. Further tests may be needed if you have:
You may be sent to a specialist if there is no clear cause or cure.
Your voice box may be examined with a scope. Other tests may also be done to test swallowing.
Laryngitis will often go away on its own. Some causes may require medicine or treatment.
Swelling and discomfort of the vocal cords can be managed with home care, such as:
Other steps will depend on the cause of laryngitis such as:
Voice therapy may be needed. It can help to treat regular vocal overuse or chronic laryngitis. Voice therapy consists of:
You may not be able to prevent some of the illnesses and disorders that can cause laryngitis. To prevent and treat mild hoarseness related to laryngitis:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Common problems that can affect your voice. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at:
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Accessed September 26, 2017.
Laryngitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115115/Laryngitis. Updated October 18, 2016. Accessed September 26, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcie L. Sidman, MD
Last Updated: 7/17/2020
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