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Laryngitis refers to an inflammation of the voice box. Discover the causes, symptoms, how to treat laryngitis and when you should see a doctor.

What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx), typically caused by an infection. This is generally caused by a virus and is often linked with a common cold flu.

What causes laryngitis?

  • Overuse or straining of the voice

  • Regurgitation (reflux) of stomach acid

  • Allergies to dust, fumes or chemicals which can irritate the larynx

  • Prolonged periods of coughing or throat clearing

  • Heavy smoking

  • Alcohol misuse

Symptoms of laryngitis

  • Hoarse or croaky voice (sometimes loss of voice)

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • Temperature

  • Feeling a need to clear your throat


Generally, laryngitis is caused by a virus so will get better on its own within 1-2 weeks. Laryngitis treatment, or antibiotics, are not normally required.

Here are some things you can do to help laryngitis symptoms improve:

  • Rest your voice (reduce your speaking time - do not whisper, sing or speak loudly as this can strain the voice)

  • Eat nutritious food

  • Drink plenty of fluids – water is best

  • Gargle salt for a sore throat

  • Get plenty of rest

  • If necessary, use over-the-counter medications like paracetamol and ibuprofen, to reduce pain or temperature

  • Use a humidifier or inhale steam to prevent dryness

If laryngitis is caused by something other than an infection, it’s important to get the right treatment for this – a GP can discuss next steps with you.

For example, if laryngitis is caused by stomach acid reflux , you may need to change your diet, moderate your lifestyle or take medication to control your stomach acid.

To help treat and prevent laryngitis, it’s also important to:

  • Avoid smoky environments (and if you smoke, try to stop)

  • Reduce alcohol intake

People with laryngitis provoked by voice straining may also benefit from vocal therapy.

When to see a GP

  • If you have symptoms of laryngitis for longer than 2 weeks

  • If you have any breathing difficulties

  • If you have difficulty swallowing

  • If you get recurrent episodes of laryngitis

Reviewed by:

Dr Rhianna McClymont

Lead GP at Livi

Last updated: