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.
As a symptom of illness, sore
throat rivals fatigue for being both commonplace and a potential sign
of catastrophe. Usually, having a sore throat is nothing to worry about -- most
are caused by cold and
flu germs. In rare cases, however, a sore throat can signal something much
more serious. One of the first symptoms of infection caused by the dreaded ebola virus,
for example, is a sore throat.
And strep bacteria, a common cause of sore throat, especially in children,
can spread like wildfire...
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.
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
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.
Primary Medical Reviewer
David Messenger, MD
Specialist Medical Reviewer
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
February 25, 2010
WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
February 25, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor.
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