by Amy Scholten, MPH
Laryngitis is inflammation and swelling of the larynx. The larynx is the top of the windpipe. It is where the vocal cords sit. Swelling makes it hard for the vocal cords to work. This leads to sounding hoarse or not being able to make sound.
Laryngitis is most often caused by a viral infection.
Less often, it may be caused by:
Things that raise the risk of laryngitis are:
Symptoms of laryngitis may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam may be done. This may be enough to make the diagnosis.
Further tests may be needed if symptoms are lasting, severe, or unusual.
Laryngitis will often go away on its own. Some causes may require medicine or treatment.
Treatment depends on the cause. Options are:
Laryngitis cannot always be prevented. It depends on the cause. Mild hoarseness may be prevented by:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Hoarseness. National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders website. Available at: https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hoarseness. Accessed February 23, 2021.
Laryngitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/laryngitis. Accessed January 29, 2021.
Stachler RJ, Dworkin-Valenti JP. Allergic laryngitis: unraveling the myths. Curr Opin Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2017;25(3):242-246.
Throat conditions. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at:
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Accessed January 29, 2021.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Shawna Grubb, RN
Last Updated: 2/23/2021
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