Laryngitis symptoms often get worse during the first 3 days but can usually be managed at home.
In most cases, laryngitis is a temporary condition that goes away by itself within 1 to 2 weeks.
Find out whether you have laryngitis and get the right treatment today.
Laryngitis is an inflammation of your larynx (voice box) or vocal cords. Swelling distorts the sound produced when you talk, often causing a hoarse voice. Other symptoms may include complete voice loss, a sore throat, cough, or fever. Laryngitis can come on suddenly but usually clears up on its own in 1 to 2 weeks.
Laryngitis is only contagious if it’s caused by an infection. A person who has viral, bacterial or fungal laryngitis is more infectious when they have a fever. Laryngitis isn’t contagious if it’s caused by damage to the larynx (like prolonged coughing, a strained voice or acid reflux) or exposure to irritants (like allergies or smoking).
Laryngitis is usually caused by viral infections, similar to those that cause the common cold, flu, tonsillitis or pharyngitis. If you’ve got another illness you may have additional symptoms, often making it difficult to self-diagnose your condition.
Symptoms can come on suddenly. The most common sign of laryngitis is a hoarse or croaky voice. Many symptoms can be relieved with home remedies. We can help with:
What are the signs of laryngitis? And what does laryngitis feel like?
Laryngitis symptoms can include a:
It’s worth noting that laryngitis is often linked to other illnesses like the common cold or flu. This means that you might also experience other symptoms to these such as a runny nose or high fever.
Signs of laryngitis will often appear suddenly. You might notice this when your voice becomes suddenly hoarse or you start to experience a loss of voice. Pain in the throat might also indicate that you are suffering from laryngitis.
If you have a fever or upper respiratory conditions like a runny nose, you should take precautions as it is likely that you are contagious. When these symptoms pass, it’s likely that you’re not contagious anymore.
If you are working with laryngitis, make sure to look after your voice and only speak when it is absolutely necessary. When you do need to speak, use a ‘confidential voice’ rather than a whisper as this will cause less strain on your voice.
Possible complications of laryngitis include:
Pharyngitis (sore throat) can also affect the larynx, causing laryngitis and a hoarse voice. Similarly, a chest infection (chesty cough, wheezing, chest discomfort) can also cause laryngitis and a hoarse voice.
Suggested: Guide on chest infections.
Epiglottitis is a very uncommon but serious infection in children affecting the epiglottis (the flap at the base of the tongue which prevents food entering your windpipe) which becomes inflamed. This can cause a very severe sore throat and breathing difficulties, which can also cause a hoarse voice. If epiglottitis is suspected, see a GP or attend A&E immediately.
A similar infection called supraglottitis occurs in adults. Symptoms are similar to epiglottitis. If suspected, see your GP or visit A&E urgently.
It’s also worth noting that laryngitis is usually accompanied by symptoms of viral infections such as:
More often than not, laryngitis will clear up on its own within 2 weeks without treatment from a GP. This is known as a case of acute laryngitis.
If your symptoms last for longer than 3 weeks it is termed chronic laryngitis and is not likely due to an infection. You should visit your GP if you suspect you have chronic laryngitis. We can help with:
What is the difference between acute and chronic laryngitis? And when should I see a doctor?
Most cases of laryngitis are acute and do not last longer than a couple of weeks. Cases of acute laryngitis are often caused by a viral infection similar to those which cause the common cold or flu.
In some cases, laryngitis might last for an extended period of time (greater than 3 weeks). This is known as chronic laryngitis and is diagnosed when you have had laryngitis symptoms for longer than 3 weeks.
In most cases, the viruses that cause laryngitis are not very contagious. People with laryngitis are at their most contagious when they have a fever. In cases when laryngitis is caused by a bacterial or fungal infection, it can be more contagious.
Treatment at home is usually recommended for people with acute laryngitis as most cases are mild and will clear up naturally on their own. Antibiotics are not usually effective for acute laryngitis but might be considered by your GP.
If you have chronic laryngitis, your GP might want to refer you to an ENT Surgeon to perform a laryngoscopy. This is when an ENT Surgeon examines your larynx (voice box). Your ENT Surgeon might also suggest that you undergo a biopsy if the examination is not conclusive. Management of chronic laryngitis usually involves voice therapy and treatment of the underlying causes. This is done in addition to at-home self-care.
It is best to address the symptoms of laryngitis sooner rather than later. Therefore, it is recommended to visit your GP if you have been experiencing laryngitis symptoms for two weeks or more.
Seek urgent care if you experience difficulty breathing, you cough up blood or cannot swallow properly.
When you have an appointment with your GP about laryngitis, they will usually take a look at your throat. In some cases, your GP might want to look for the cause of your laryngitis by wiping a cotton bud around the back of your throat or arranging for you to have a blood test. If you find that laryngitis keeps coming back, your GP might want to refer you to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. In cases where your laryngitis is caused by a bacterial infection, your GP might prescribe you with antibiotics to help fight the infection.
Laryngitis is a common condition in the UK, with more than 4,000 cases of laryngitis and tracheitis reported per week. It can usually be treated using over the counter medications and self-care. In some cases, antibiotics might be required to help fight your infection.
What course of treatment is best for you depends on what type of laryngitis you have. For instance, acute laryngitis will usually go away on its own but chronic laryngitis might require antibiotics or surgery. We can help with:
How can I treat acute and chronic laryngitis? And what is the best treatment to take?
More often than not, acute laryngitis does not require treatment from a GP and will simply pass on its own. To help speed up your recovery, here are some things you can try to help get rid of laryngitis:
Treatment for chronic laryngitis, that is laryngitis that has persisted for more than three weeks, is usually targeted at its underlying cause. If you have a case of chronic laryngitis, your GP might suggest the following in addition to the treatments listed for acute laryngitis:
Acute laryngitis is usually caused by a virus and will clear up over time without the need for medications. However, in some cases, laryngitis is caused by a bacterial infection for which a GP might prescribe antibiotics. As chronic laryngitis treatment usually aims to tackle the underlying condition which is causing your laryngitis, medications can vary.
To help deal with the pain, you might consider painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen for laryngitis. These can be purchased without a prescription from your local pharmacy or convenience store. Painkillers can help you to alleviate some of the pain and discomfort of having laryngitis.
There is no single best antibiotic for laryngitis. In fact, antibiotics often won’t be helpful due to most cases of laryngitis being caused by a viral infection, not a bacterial one. It’s worth noting that the use of antibiotics in acute laryngitis has been shown to have no significant clinical benefit.
Laryngitis can usually be treated at home without antibiotics from a GP. In most cases, it will pass naturally within two weeks.
To help make this time more comfortable and speed up your recovery, there are many home remedies and ways to treat laryngitis naturally. We can help with:
What are some natural remedies for laryngitis? And how can I rest my voice?
Often, laryngitis can be treated at home. The following laryngitis remedies can help you to recover from laryngitis naturally:
Try not to overuse your voice. Only talk when you need to and avoid singing with laryngitis.
Laryngitis is linked with stress. Feeling stressed can affect the quality of your voice. This is because stress causes the muscles in your body to tighten, including those in your throat, neck, vocal cords and chest, which can worsen your voice quality.
When you have laryngitis, it is best to avoid eating spicy foods. As spicy foods tend to cause stomach acid to move into the esophagus and throat, this often results in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or heartburn.
Laryngitis occurs when your larynx (voice box) becomes swollen or inflamed. In most cases, this is an acute condition lasting less than two weeks but in some cases it can be a chronic condition lasting longer.
Laryngitis is most commonly caused by viral infections such as the common cold or flu. However, it also has a number of other potential causes. The best way to treat and prevent laryngitis depends on what the underlying cause is. We can help with:
What causes laryngitis? Can allergies cause laryngitis?
Laryngitis usually follows a viral infection such as the common cold or flu. Acute laryngitis can also be caused by putting too much stress on your voice by speaking for long durations, singing loudly or shouting excessively.
In very rare cases, laryngitis might also be caused by diphtheria, a highly contagious and potentially fatal condition. It’s worth noting that babies and children are routinely vaccinated against diphtheria in the UK and its prevalence is very low.
Chronic laryngitis causes include:
Viral laryngitis is caused by a viral infection, usually similar to those that cause the common cold or the flu. This is the most common cause of laryngitis. Laryngitis caused by a viral infection will usually clear up within two weeks.
Reflux laryngitis is a term given to laryngitis caused by acid reflux. It occurs when acid from your stomach or other chemicals from your stomach come up and irritate your larynx (voice box). This often occurs while you are sleeping.
Seasonal allergies and laryngitis are related. If you suffer from hay fever, this can be a cause of laryngitis. This is due to allergens such as pollen irritating your larynx (voice box). Speak with your pharmacist about antihistamines that you can take to help manage your allergies.
There are many things which you can do to help prevent laryngitis, including:
Smoking with laryngitis is not advised. If you regularly inhale cigarette smoke, including secondhand smoke, your vocal cords can become irritated and your throat swollen. This can make you more susceptible to getting laryngitis.
Quitting smoking comes with many health benefits. You might find the following resources helpful if you would like to quit smoking:
If you are struggling to quit smoking on your own, speak to your GP or pharmacist who will be able to offer you support.
Getting laryngitis in pregnancy in any trimester can be worrying for mothers-to-be. Although laryngitis can be uncomfortable, it will usually pass on its own within one or two weeks and will not cause any harm to your baby.
It’s worth noting that not all treatment options for laryngitis will be appropriate for pregnant women. However, there are some things that pregnant women can do when they have laryngitis to make it easier to cope with. We can help with:
Is it dangerous to have laryngitis while pregnant? And what can I take?
To help treat laryngitis when pregnant, you can do the following:
Laryngitis is not dangerous in pregnancy and in most cases, laryngitis will usually pass on its own within one or two weeks. It’s worth noting that some treatments for laryngitis can be dangerous to take while pregnant.
To help manage the pain of laryngitis while pregnant, you can take paracetamol. Paracetamol is the only painkiller that is considered safe to use when pregnant by the NHS. However, it’s still recommended that you should take the minimum dose for the shortest time possible. If you’re feeling really unwell, speak to your GP before taking painkillers when pregnant.
If your symptoms have not improved after two weeks, you find it difficult or very painful to swallow or laryngitis keeps coming back, you should visit your GP. If you find you are feeling really unwell when pregnant, you should make an appointment to see your GP for advice.
If you are pregnant and worried about getting laryngitis, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent laryngitis:
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