The main symptom of
laryngitis is a hoarse, weak, raspy, or breathy voice.
In some cases, you may not be able to talk at all. You may have a sore throat
before you begin to have voice problems. And you may continue to have some
throat discomfort as the quality of your voice declines.
first notice voice-related symptoms when you wake up in the morning. It may
take more effort for you to speak, and your voice may not sound normal. You
also may cough or feel an urge to clear your throat, especially if your
condition is caused by a virus or other infection.
usually temporary unless there is another problem. If your symptoms also
include severe pain, problems swallowing, coughing up blood, or a noticeable
lump in your neck, you should see a doctor right away. A child who has severe
pain, drooling, and problems breathing may have
epiglottitis, a serious condition that requires
emergency care. Adults also get epiglottitis, but it is more common in
See a picture of
Common causes of laryngitis
Laryngitis is most
often caused by:
- An upper respiratory infection (URI) caused
by a virus, such as the common cold. Most cases of laryngitis occur with or
follow a URI and may be linked to with
postnasal drip and coughing. Symptoms may also include
a stuffy or runny nose and a slight fever.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Acids from the
stomach can irritate and inflame the larynx, a condition known as reflux
laryngitis. Symptoms of reflux (such as heartburn) aren't always noticed.
Laryngitis may be the first sign of reflux in some
- Environmental exposures. Coughing and postnasal drip may
also contribute to laryngitis after a person has been exposed to
allergens or irritants. Cigarette smoke, including
secondhand smoke, is a common irritant.
- Strain or overuse. A voice
that is hoarse, raspy, or weak may result from excessive use, such as after
cheering at a sports event. For more information, see
Sometimes people with
asthma can get hoarse from using an
inhaler with steroid medicine. In rare cases, this may
also cause a yeast infection in the throat.
Indications of chronic symptoms
Most cases of
laryngitis improve after a few days and go away without treatment. But if
symptoms become chronic, the larynx may be damaged. For example, if you have
chronic reflux laryngitis, you may get inflammation that could lead to sores or nodules on your vocal cords. You
will also have an increased risk for developing cancer in your throat.
Symptoms that do not improve after 2 weeks may point to a chronic problem
or another condition that can damage the larynx. See your
doctor to try to find out the cause of long-term symptoms.