Laryngitis is when your larynx (voice box) is irritated or swollen.

Signs & Symptoms

  1. Hoarse, husky, and weak voice or loss of voice.

  2. Cough.

  3. Sore throat, fever, and/or trouble swallowing.


Common causes are allergies and irritants like smoke; bacterial or viral infections; and strained vocal cords. Smoking, drinking alcohol, breathing cold air, and using already distressed vocal cords can make the problem worse. Growths on the vocal cords or nerve damage to the vocal cords can also cause hoarseness.



American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery

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Self-care treats most cases of laryngitis. If needed, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for a bacterial infection.

Questions to Ask

Do you have a high fever or are you coughing up yellow, green, or bloody-colored mucus?

Do you have hard, swollen lymph glands in your neck or do you feel like you have a “lump” in your throat that doesn’t go away?

Has hoarseness lasted more than a week in a child, more than a month in an adult, or does it become chronic in a smoker?

Self-Care / Prevention

  1. Don’t smoke. Avoid secondhand smoke.

  2. Don’t talk if you don’t need to. Write notes, instead.

  3. Use a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom.

  4. Drink a lot of fluids. Drink warm drinks, such as weak tea, with honey and/or lemon juice.

  5. Gargle every few hours with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water).

  6. Run hot water in the shower to make steam. Sit in the bathroom and breathe the moist air.

  7. Suck on cough drops, throat lozenges, or hard candy. (Don’t give to children under age 5.) Take an over-the-counter medicine for pain as directed on the label.

Common Health Problems  »  Ear, Nose & Throat Problems