What is Laryngitis?

What is Laryngitis?

Laryngitis is inflammation of the voice box (larynx). Your larynx is located in your throat, just above your windpipe (trachea). It’s made up of cartilage, ligaments, and muscles. The two vocal cords in the larynx are covered with a mucous membrane.

If your larynx is inflamed or injured, your voice may sound raspy, hoarse, lower in pitch, or only whisper. Sometimes a person with laryngitis has no voice at all.

Types of Laryngitis


The types of laryngitis include:

  • Acute laryngitis is short-lived, lasting no more than a few days or up to three weeks, and may be caused by temporary factors such as an upper respiratory infection or overuse of the voice.
  • Chronic laryngitis lasts longer than three weeks and may be attributed to ongoing exposures such as inhaled irritants, smoking, or alcohol abuse.

Signs & Symptoms of Laryngitis


You may experience the following laryngitis symptoms:

  • Hoarse voice
  • Loss of voice or weak voice
  • Dry or sore throat
  • Dry cough
  • Tickle in the throat
  • Fever or swollen lymph nodes, if laryngitis is caused by an infection

If your laryngitis symptoms persist, a primary care physician can evaluate them and determine the best course of care.

Symptoms in children

Symptoms of laryngitis in children may be similar to adults. A child may experience:

  • Raspy or hoarse voice
  • Loss of voice
  • Cough
  • Fever

Laryngitis symptoms in children may resemble croup — an infection of the larynx, trachea, and bronchial tubes in the lungs. In addition to a hoarse voice and fever, croup may cause a loud barking cough and make breathing noisy or difficult, especially at night. 

If your child has croup, you should contact a pediatrician if your child’s symptoms are not getting better after three to five days. Seek medical attention right away if your child is having difficulty breathing.

More to explore

What Causes Laryngitis?


There are many causes of laryngitis. Among the most common are:

  • Viral infection, such as a cold or the flu
  • Bronchitis
  • Straining the voice through overuse or yelling
  • Acid reflux (heartburn)
  • Smoking
  • Inhaled irritants
  • Excessive alcohol use
  • Larynx cancer

Risk Factors for Laryngitis

Risk Factors

People with the following risk factors are more likely to develop laryngitis:

  • Smoking
  • Regular straining of the voice, such as cheerleaders or coaches
  • Occupational exposure to irritating chemicals
  • Chronic sinus infections and other respiratory infections
  • Allergies
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)



You can reduce your risk of laryngitis by:

  • Limiting your exposure to people who have a cold or the flu
  • Practicing good handwashing to avoid getting sick
  • Avoiding smoking or excessive drinking
  • Avoiding straining your voice or resting it periodically if your job or activities require you to raise your voice frequently
  • Drinking water to stay hydrated and avoid a dry throat
  • Trying not to clear your throat often
  • Eating a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight to reduce the risk of GERD
Get Care

Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Laryngitis Care

If you or your child is experiencing symptoms of laryngitis that are not getting better, you can schedule an in-person visit or virtual urgent care appointment with a primary care provider at a NewYork-Presbyterian campus or a NewYork-Presbyterian medical group location. Some situations can be addressed with a video visit alone. 

We offer same-day appointments for those with urgent needs, convenient early, late, and weekend hours, connection with our patient portal, and referrals to NewYork-Presbyterian specialists. Most insurances are accepted. Make an appointment today.