Laryngitis is most often caused by a viral infection.
Less often, it may be caused by:
- Growths on the larynx or vocal cords
- Overuse of the voice
- Reinke edema—buildup of fluid in the vocal cords
- Spasmodic dysphonia—a condition that causes irregular voice breaks
- Vocal cord paralysis
- Immune system problems
- Other types of infection
Things that raise the risk of laryngitis are:
- Upper respiratory tract infections—like a cold
- Yelling, singing, and speaking loudly—for long periods of time
- Inhaling cigarette smoke or other irritating substances
- Having health problems such as:
- Snoring, mouth-breathing, or sleep apnea
- A weak immune system
- Allergies to dust, mold, and pollen
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Using inhaled asthma medicines
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Bacterial or fungal infections—much less common
Symptoms of laryngitis may be:
- Hoarseness or loss of voice
- Changes in how loud, high, or low the voice sounds
- Sore throat
- Painful swallowing
- Runny nose
- Swollen glands in the neck
Laryngitis will often go away on its own. Some causes may require medicine or treatment.
Treatment depends on the cause. Options are:
- Treating symptoms with home care such as rest, fluids, and pain medicine.
- Treating causes, such as:
- Voice strain or overuse—may improve with voice rest or (if long-term) voice therapy
- Seasonal allergies—may improve with allergy shots or medicine
- Acid reflux—may be controlled with lifestyle changes or medicine
- Bacterial infection—may need antibiotics
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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