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American Academy of Otolaryngology -

Head and Neck Surgery


Laryngitis is when your larynx (voice box) is irritated or swollen.

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Self-Care /


Image of women with laryngitis.

•  Hoarse, husky, and weak voice or loss of voice.

•  Cough.

•  Sore throat, fever, and/or trouble swallowing.

Common causes are allergies and irritants like smoke; bacterial or viral infections; and strained vocal cords. Smoking, drinking alcohol, breathing cold air, and using already distressed vocal cords can make the problem worse. Growths on the vocal cords or nerve damage to the vocal cords can also cause hoarseness.

Image of doctor and patient.

Self-care treats most cases of laryngitis. If needed, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for a bacterial infection.

Image of doctor and patient.

•  Don’t smoke. Avoid secondhand smoke.

•  Don’t talk if you don’t need to. Write notes, instead.

•  Use a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom.

•  Drink a lot of fluids. Drink warm drinks, such as weak tea, with honey and/or lemon juice.

•  Gargle every few hours with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of warm water).

•  Run hot water in the shower to make steam. Sit in the bathroom and breathe the moist air.

•  Suck on cough drops, throat lozenges, or hard candy. (Don’t give to children under age 5.) Take an over-the-counter medicine for pain as directed on the label.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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