The larynx joins the back of the throat to the trachea (windpipe). The vocal cords are in the larynx. Laryngitis means inflammation of the larynx. It is most commonly due to to a viral infection (viral laryngitis). Other causes are uncommon.

What are the symptoms of viral laryngitis?

You may feel sore over the front of your neck and become hoarse shortly afterwards. The voice sometimes goes, and you may only be able to whisper.
A typical viral laryngitis gets worse over 2-3 days. It then eases and goes, usually within a week. However, you may have a croaky voice for a week or so even after the other symptoms have gone.

Breathing difficulty is an uncommon complication. This may occur if there is a lot of inflammation and swelling in the larynx, which causes the windpipe to narrow. This is rare in adults, but sometimes happens in young children with smaller, narrower windpipes. See a doctor urgently if you have this.

What is the treatment for viral laryngitis?

  • Not treating is an option, as laryngitis usually gets better within a few days.
  • Have plenty to drink, as it is tempting not to drink very much if it is painful to swallow..
  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen ease pain, headache, and fever..
  • Aspirin gargles will do little to ease soreness in the larynx.
  • Other gargles, lozenges, and sprays which you can buy may help to soothe a sore throat but, again, will do little to help with soreness in the larynx.
  • Breathing in humidified air may help.

What about using or resting my voice?

If possible, rest your voice when you have laryngitis. If you overuse your voice when the vocal cords are inflamed, it may make the inflammation worse. It is unlikely to do any permanent damage, but it may take longer for your normal voice to return.

Do I need an antibiotic?

Usually not. Laryngitis is usually caused by a virus. Antibiotics do not kill viruses, they only kill bacteria. Your immune system usually clears viral infections quickly.

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