Laryngitis: what it is, remedies, treatment, symptoms and causes


What is laryngitis?

Laryngitis is an inflammation in the larynx that can cause hoarseness and loss of voice. Most of the time caused by viral infection or excessive speech, the disease irritates the vocal cords, which generates a distortion in the sounds emitted.

In general, laryngitis is not considered a serious disease and can be treated in a few weeks. However, cases of persistent (chronic) hoarseness can mean more serious health problems.

But after all, what is the larynx?

Located between the pharynx and the trachea, the larynx is a cylindrical structure, responsible for housing the vocal cords and allowing the emission of sounds through the modulation of the air passage. Once the vocal cords are irritated, the swelling causes a distortion in the sound produced. And that is why laryngitis causes hoarseness.

In addition, the larynx plays an important role in swallowing, protecting the airways.

Types of laryngitis

Basically, the types of laryngitis differ between the duration and the causes of the disease. Understand the main differences below:

Acute Laryngitis

Acute inflammations are the most common and have a short duration (usually less than a week). This type of laryngitis usually arises from a viral respiratory infection and is accompanied by colds and flu.

Causes of acute laryngitis

Temporary cases tend to be caused by viral infections, caused by viruses such as influenza. There is also the possibility that acute laryngitis is caused by excessive use of the voice or, in rarer cases, by bacterial infections.

Treatment of acute laryngitis

In mild cases of the disease the main recommendation is to rest your voice and avoid whispering. With adequate rest, you will be able to speak normally again in a short time. It is also important to avoid aggressive substances such as cigarettes and alcohol.

Chronic Laryngitis

Unlike acute laryngitis, this condition lasts for weeks and requires greater care. Severe cases of the disease can cause lesions and tumors in the vocal cords.

Causes of chronic laryngitis

Chronic laryngitis is one that persists for weeks and is usually caused by continuous irritation factors. Some of the possible causes are:

  • Excessive use of alcohol;
  • Smoke;
  • Gastroesophageal reflux;
  • Allergic reactions (allergic laryngitis);
  • Chronic sinusitis;
  • Excessive and constant use of the voice;
  • Autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis);
  • Bacterial or fungal infections;
  • Parasitic infections.

In cases of chronic hoarseness, laryngitis can only be a symptom of more serious diseases, such as cancer .

Treatment of chronic laryngitis

If symptoms persist for longer it means that laryngitis is chronic. In that case, the treatment must be defined by the doctor according to the cause of the disease.

Among the possible treatments are speech training, radiation therapy and even surgical intervention.

Reflux laryngitis

Diseases of gastroesophageal reflux can cause laryngitis. This happens due to the constant rise of gastric contents through the larynx, making it irritated.

Causes of reflux laryngitis

People who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease can easily develop laryngitis. The most common factors that lead to this disease are inappropriate eating habits, such as drinking fluids during meals or lying down right after eating.

Stridulous laryngitis / Infant laryngitis

Stridulous laryngitis, caused by viral infection, usually affects children up to three years of age, especially in the period between autumn and winter. In general, the disease causes dry cough and difficulty breathing. Although the symptoms seem worrying, they tend to go away in a few days.

Causes of stridulous laryngitis

Laryngitis in children usually originates from a cold or flu . In less common situations, the disease can be caused by respiratory allergies, airway infection or reflux.

Groups of risk

Anyone can develop laryngitis, especially those who already have an infection in the airways. However, some groups are more likely to contract the disease:

  • Smokers;
  • Professionals who use their voices a lot (singers, teachers);
  • People with gastroesophageal reflux disease;
  • Allergic people.

Children aged between six months and three years, in particular, are more likely to have stridulous laryngitis.

Symptoms of laryngitis

Most of the time, the symptoms of laryngitis last for less than a week except in chronic cases. In addition to hoarseness, the patient may have:

  • Dry cough;
  • Roaring cough (coughing similar to a dog bark, which children usually do);
  • Sore throat;
  • Total or partial loss of voice;
  • Low fever;
  • Dry throat;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Swollen glands;
  • Feeling of lump in the neck.

In cases of stridulous laryngitis, airway obstruction and difficulty in breathing may also appear.

When should I see a doctor?

The most common symptoms of laryngitis are not usually of concern. For this reason, only rest and some care at home are sufficient for an effective treatment. However, you should see a doctor if the symptoms of laryngitis last for more than two weeks or whenever you experience:

  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Coughing up blood;
  • Constant fever;
  • Growing pain;
  • Difficulty swallowing.

In cases of infantile laryngitis, seek medical help immediately when the child has:

  • Noise when breathing (laryngeal stridor);
  • Fever above 39 degrees;
  • Excessive drooling;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Difficulty breathing.

What is the difference between laryngitis and pharyngitis?

The main difference between the two diseases is in the symptoms. Although sore throat , throat clearing and irritation are common in both cases, hoarseness of the voice is a result of laryngitis. In any case, it is important to always consult a doctor to make the correct diagnosis.

How is laryngitis diagnosed?

The diagnosis of laryngitis can be made by an otolaryngologist, pediatrician or general practitioner. The healthcare professional will mainly take into account the signs of voice changes and sore throat.

During the consultation it is likely that the doctor will perform a physical examination in the neck area to check for lumps, in addition to examining the bottom of the throat for signs of redness or inflammation.

In situations of non-apparent cause, the doctor may also order some additional tests.

What tests can detect laryngitis?

In addition to physical examinations, the doctor may request:

  • Videolaryngoscopy: examination performed by the otorhinolaryngologist, in which a video system films the region from the base of the tongue to the larynx. Thus, the doctor can check the movement of your vocal cords while speaking.
  • Biopsy: analysis of tissue sample in cases where the doctor identifies something suspicious.
  • Radiography: X -ray examination of the neck to check for the presence of lumps.


Most of the time, the symptoms of the disease should resolve spontaneously in less than a week. In more severe cases, the use of antibiotics (when there is a bacterial infection) or corticosteroids may be prescribed. When detecting nodules in the larynx, the doctor may also request a surgical intervention. The important thing is to identify the cause so that there is an effective treatment.

Here’s how to treat laryngitis.

Home treatment for laryngitis

You can adopt some behaviors to make recovery faster:

  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep your vocal cords hydrated;
  • Gargle with warm salted water;
  • Use humidifiers and inhalers;
  • Take a shower with hot water and suck in steam.

What not to do

  • Avoid decongestants – they can make your throat even drier;
  • Avoid some herbs that are used to fight sore throat, such as licorice – they can interact with some medications -. Get medical help before taking them.

Laryngitis Medications

The drugs commonly indicated for the treatment of laryngitis are:

  • Antux
  • Azithromycin
  • Bi Profenid
  • Broncho-Vaxom
  • Cephalexin
  • Disodium Ceftriaxone
  • Ceftriaxone Sodium
  • Ketoprofen
  • Cefanaxil
  • Clindamin-C
  • Clobutinol + Doxylamine Succinate
  • Doxycycline
  • Erythromycin
  • Flanax
  • Ibuprofen
  • Nimesulide
  • Paracetamol


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained in this website is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Some medications used depend on the cause of the disease. In cases developed by allergic reactions, for example, treatment is done with the use of antihistamines.

In cases of laryngitis in children, it is important not to use the syrup, as the cough resulting from this disease cannot be relieved with this type of medication.


With proper treatment, laryngitis does not usually present serious complications. However, in cases of infection, it is important to treat the disease quickly to prevent it from developing in other organs of the respiratory tract.

In laryngitis in children, special attention is also recommended, as the onset of high fever and the difficulty in swallowing and breathing may indicate an inflammation of the epiglottis.

How to prevent laryngitis?

The best way to prevent laryngitis is to avoid dryness and irritation of the vocal cords. For that it is necessary:

  • Do not smoke cigarettes and stay away from the smoke;
  • Avoiding excess alcohol and caffeine these substances cause dehydration;
  • Drink a lot of water;
  • Avoid spicy foods – they can cause gastroesophageal reflux;
  • Include fiber, fruits and vegetables in the diet – the vitamins in these foods help maintain throat health;
  • Avoid clearing your throat – this causes irritation and can increase the swelling of the vocal cords.
  • Avoid upper respiratory tract infections by washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with people with the flu or colds.