Last updated:

Reviewed by:

Dr Rhianna McClymont

, Lead GP at Livi

Medically reviewed

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 the common cold or flu.

What are the symptoms of laryngitis?

  • Hoarse or croaky voice (sometimes loss of voice)

  • Sore throat

  • Cough

  • High temperature

  • Feeling the need to clear your throat

What causes laryngitis?

Laryngitis is usually caused by a virus. Other common causes include:

  • Overuse or straining your voice

  • Regurgitation (reflux) of stomach acid

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

  • A lot of coughing or throat clearing over a long period of time

  • Smoking a lot

  • Drinking a lot of alcohol

How long does laryngitis last?

In most cases, laryngitis gets better on its own within 1-2 weeks.

How to treat laryngitis yourself

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

  • Rest your voice (cut down on the amount of time you're speaking – don't whisper, sing or speak loudly as this can strain your voice)

  • Eat nutritious foods

  • Drink plenty of fluids – water is best

  • Gargle salty water to relieve 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 keep your throat moist

How is laryngitis treated?

Most people don't need treatment for laryngitis, but in some cases, a doctor may decide to give you antibiotics.

If laryngitis is caused by something other than an infection, it’s important to get the right treatment – a GP can assess your symptoms and give you advice.

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.

How can I prevent laryngitis?

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

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

  • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink

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

When should I talk to a doctor?

You should see a GP if you:

  • Have symptoms of laryngitis for longer than 2 weeks

  • Have any breathing difficulties

  • Have difficulty swallowing

  • Get recurrent episodes of laryngitis

How can Livi help?

A Livi doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms. They’ll make an individual assessment, recommend a treatment or refer you to a specialist if needed.

Last updated:
Reviewed by:
Dr Rhianna McClymont , Lead GP at Livi