Laryngitis is an infection or irritation of the voice box (larynx). The most common cause is a viral infection, such as a cold. Other causes include allergies; excessive talking, singing, or yelling; cigarette smoke; and the backflow (reflux) of stomach acid into the throat. Heavy drinking or smoking can lead to chronic laryngitis.

Symptoms include:

  • Hoarseness or loss of voice.
  • The urge to clear your throat.
  • Fever.
  • Fatigue.
  • Throat pain.
  • Cough.

Your voice box usually heals in 5 to 10 days. Medicine does little to speed recovery. Hoarseness may last up to 1 week after a cold goes away. If hoarseness is caused by a cold, treat the cold.

Home treatment can help relieve the discomfort of laryngitis.

  • Rest your voice. Talk as little as possible. Don't shout or whisper, and avoid clearing your throat.
  • Stop smoking and avoid other people's smoke.
  • Humidify your bedroom or your whole house, if possible.
  • Drink 8 to 12 glasses of water a day. You are drinking enough if you are urinating more often than usual.
  • To soothe the throat, gargle with warm salt water [1 tsp (5 g) in 8 fl oz (240 mL) of water] or drink weak tea or hot water with honey or lemon juice in it. Do not give honey to children younger than 1 year of age.

To prevent hoarseness, talk more quietly as soon as you feel minor pain. Give your vocal cords a rest.

Last Updated: February 25, 2010

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: David Messenger, MD Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.