Telehealth Doctors and Psychologists Australia

Updated 10 September 2021


Laryngitis / cold
Laryngitis is a medical condition characterised by the inflammation or swelling of your larynx or voice box as well as your vocal cords. This condition makes it difficult for your larynx to properly vibrate thereby making you sound hoarse or causing you to temporarily lose your voice.

Symptoms of Laryngitis

Some  common symptoms of Laryngitis include;
  • A hoarse voice,
  • A mild fever,
  • A runny nose and nasal congestion,
  • Nausea,
  • Headaches,
  • A dry or sore throat,
  • Pain while swallowing fluids or food, and
  • Cough,

What causes Laryngitis?

For most cases of Laryngitis it is a temporary condition that is usually over within a week or less. It is commonly caused by a virus such as a  cold or flu. Laryngitis can also be caused by a bacteria but this is very rare. Laryngitis can also be caused by an overuse or strain on your larynx which occurs when you talk for a long period of time, yell or sing at the top of your voice. Chronic Laryngitis is a term used for Laryngitis which lasts longer than 3 weeks. Chronic Laryngitis is usually caused by;
  • A continuous overuse of your larynx. This is common with singers.
  • Irritation of your larynx which may be caused by exposure to airborne pollutants, chemicals, dust, and fumes.
  • Excessive smoking of cigarettes which can cause an inflammation of your larynx.
  • Excessive drinking of alcohol.
  • Stomach acid reflux.
  • Ageing can cause your larynx and vocal cords to lose their elasticity and tension.
  • Electrolyte balance problems where low potassium levels in your body can lead to a weakness in the muscles of your vocal cords.
  • Allergies can cause your vocal cords to be inflamed.
  • Vocal or Laryngeal paralysis.
  • Endocrine issues especially where your thyroid is less active than normal and can lead to a hoarse voice.
  • The presence of a benign or even malignant tumour.

Test and Diagnosis of Laryngitis

Mild Laryngitis will clear up within a few days and you may not need to visit your doctor if you have this condition. However, in a situation whereby you experience difficulty in breathing and/or you can feel an inflammation or swelling in your lymph nodes, you should consult your doctor. In addition, if your symptoms of Laryngitis remain after 14 days see your doctor. When you see a doctor, he or she would perform a physical examination while asking you a number of questions relating to the mode of transmission of your Laryngitis and also the symptoms you are presently experiencing. If your doctor is suspicious of your symptoms, he or she may request a few tests or refer you a Specialist for to exclude more serious causes.

Treatment of Laryngitis

If you have mild Laryngitis, you really do not require any form of treatment, as the condition clears up on its own after a few days. Mild Laryngitis is usually caused by a viral infection similar to the common cold or flu. There would not be any need for antibiotics, since antibiotics do not kill viruses. Home therapy is also useful in helping your voice to recover quickly. Here are a few home therapy tips to help you with a speedy recovery from Laryngitis.
  • Avoid drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Consume lots of clean drinking water.
  • Quit smoking cigarettes and exposure to the smoke of cigarettes
  • Try to avoid yelling or shouting as much as possible.
  • Talk less and take breaks while singing to avoid overusing or straining your vocal cords.
  • Whispering actually causes a strain on your Larynx, so maintain a normal tone when speaking.
  • If one of your Laryngitis symptoms is nasal congestion, you can gain relief by inhaling steam. However, try to avoid using nasal decongestants because they tend to leave your mouth and throat dry.
  • You can gargle using a solution of salt and warm water.
If your symptoms last more longer than 2 weeks, see a doctor.