The larynx is an organ located in the throat. It houses the vocal cords. The larynx is used for breathing, swallowing, and speaking.
Laryngitis is the inflammation of the larynx. It is sometimes called "false croup" when it affects children under the age of 5.
The most common cause of laryngitis is a virus. Chronic laryngitis that lasts longer than 3 weeks may be explained by other causes. The main symptoms are as follows:
- A change in voice (hoarseness and decreased volume or loss of voice)
- Throat pain or irritation
- A dry, barking cough
Causes and triggers
Certain factors can increase the risk of developing laryngitis, including:
- Respiratory infection (e.g., a cold, bronchitis, sinusitis)
- Exposing the respiratory tract to irritants:
- Excessive amounts of alcohol
- Gastric acid (i.e., acid reflux from the stomach)
- Overuse of voice
Laryngitis usually resolves on its own within a week, and no specific treatment is required. However, if the cause is known, it can be treated.
To reduce symptoms, try doing the following:
- Engage in quiet activities
- Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve fever
- Avoid talking if you have voice loss
- Stay well hydrated with non-irritating liquids such as water
- Breathe fresh air for at least 15 minutes
The measures below are recommended to help prevent laryngitis:
- Vaccination per the recommended schedule
- Frequent hand washing
- Maintaining a smoke-free environment
- Avoiding contact with people who have an infection (e.g., cold or flu).
When should I see a health care professional?
Speak with your health care provider in the following situations:
- you have symptoms of laryngitis that have lasted more than 2 weeks
- your child's only symptom is loss of voice and it has been going on for more than a week.
Consult quickly or contact 911 if you:
- have difficulty breathing
- have blood in your sputum when you cough
- have a fever that doesn't seem to want to go away
Consult quickly or contact 911 if your child:
- makes breathing sounds at rest
- has difficulty breathing
- has a high fever
- drools more than normal
- has trouble swallowing