Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
Laryngitis is swelling of the voice box. This swelling usually includes the vocal cords. The swelling can make it difficult to speak.
Common causes of laryngitis include:
Other causes of hoarseness or voice loss include:
Factors that increase your risk of laryngitis include:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.
Your doctor should examine you if you experience the following:
You may be referred to an otolaryngologist, also called an ENT (ear, nose, throat) doctor, if your laryngitis does not have an easily identified cause or cure.
An ENT doctor will also ask about your medical history. Your voice box will be examined with a flexible, lighted scope. The doctor may place a mirror in the back of your mouth to see your voice box. Other tests may be done to evaluate swallowing or other processes related to normal voice.
Laryngitis caused by seasonal allergies, cold or
flu, or other viral respiratory infections will usually go away on its own. It may take up to two weeks. To help you heal:
Treatment of acid reflux will often relieve laryngitis.
Antibiotics may be needed if the laryngitis is associated with a bacterial or fungal infection.
Laryngitis as a result of voice overuse will usually go away on its own within a few days.
Voice therapy may be needed to treat voice problems. It may be used when there is regular vocal overuse. Voice therapy consists of:
If you are diagnosed with laryngitis, follow your doctor's
You may not be able to prevent some of the illnesses and disorders that can cause laryngitis. However, to prevent and treat mild hoarseness related to laryngitis do the following:
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
Acute laryngitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us. Updated June 24, 2011. Accessed January 3, 2013.
Common problems that can affect your voice.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at:
http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/commonvoiceproblems.cfm. Accessed January 3, 2013.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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