What is Laryngitis?

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box or larynx that causes the voice to become hoarse or raspy and can even lead to the temporary loss of voice because of irritation to the vocal chords.  The inflammation is usually caused by a virus.

Laryngitis is most commonly caused by colds or the flu but may also be caused by acid reflux, overusing the voice via cheering at sporting events, irritation from smoke or allergies, and inhaling steroid medicines. Chronic laryngitis may be caused by sores, nerve damage, cancer, polyps, or thick and hard lumps (nodules) on the vocal chords.

What are the Symptoms of Laryngitis?

Symptoms include: dry, sore, burning throat; fever, shortness of breath, dysphagia (problems swallowing), swollen lymph nodes in the throat, chest, or face; increased production of saliva, coughing, coughing up blood, and runny nose.

How is Laryngitis Treated?

Involves resting the voice as much as possible, speaking softly if you have to talk, avoiding clearing the throat, adding moisture to the air in your home with a humidifier, drinking plenty of fluids, and avoiding the use of decongestants. It’s also very important to avoid whispering because this may irritate the larynx even more.

Quitting smoking and avoiding the use of alcohol and caffeine can also help. Surgery may be required in situations where there has been damage to the vocal chords due to the formation of polyps or nodules. Antibiotics are prescribed for laryngitis that is caused by bacterial infection.

Last Reviewed:
October 06, 2016
Last Updated:
August 31, 2017