Laryngitis is a swelling of the tissues around the vocal cords. Symptoms include a hoarse (scratchy) voice. Or your voice may be gone for a few days or longer. This may be caused by a viral illness, such as a head or chest cold. It may also be due to overuse and strain of your voice. Smoking, drinking alcohol, acid reflux, allergies, or inhaling harsh chemicals may also lead to symptoms. This condition will usually go away in 1 to 2 weeks.

Home care

  • Rest your voice until it recovers. Talk as little as possible. If your symptoms are severe, rest at home for a day or so.

  • Moist air may help your symptoms. Try breathing cool steam from a humidifier or vaporizer. Or breathe air from a steamy shower.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay well hydrated.

  • Don't smoke

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider or this facility if you are not better after 1 week. If your hoarse voice lasts more than 2 weeks, you may need to see an otolaryngologist. This is a doctor who treats diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, and throat (ENT). Seeing this doctor is especially important if you have a history of alcohol or tobacco use.

When to seek medical advice

Contact your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Symptoms that get worse

  • Severe pain with swallowing

  • Trouble opening your mouth

  • Neck swelling, neck pain, or trouble moving your neck

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38.ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Symptoms do not go away in 2 weeks

Call 911

Call 911 or seek immediate medical care if you have any of the following:

  • Noisy breathing or trouble breathing

  • Drooling or not able to swallow

  • Not able to talk

  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded

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