Laryngitis is inflammation of the voice box, or larynx, resulting in voice changes such as hoarseness or loss of the voice completely in some cases. It is most commonly due to an infection such as the common cold or flu and typically follows a period of experiencing a cough or sore throat. However, laryngitis can also develop in response to chronic irritation of the larynx. For example, some conditions like gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), some cancers, chronic tonsillitis, and other conditions can lead to inflammation. Voice overuse and irritants like cigarette smoke can also lead to irritation of the voice box and laryngitis.
Other symptoms that might be present, depending on the cause of the laryngitis, include
- throat pain,
- pain when swallowing,
- runny nose,
- stuffy nose,
- nasal congestion,
- enlarged lymph nodes (swollen glands),
- a sensation of fullness in the throat,
- difficulty swallowing (dysphagia),
- regurgitation of food or stomach contents.
In the case of infection, the throat may appear reddened or there may be whitish deposits in the throat.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Common Respiratory Illnesses
Is your cough caused by a cold, flu, pneumonia or something else? Learn causes of respiratory infection like bronchitis,...
Do I Have Pneumonia? Symptoms & Signs
Pneumonia can be deadly. Take the Pneumonia Quiz on MedicineNet to learn more about this highly contagious, infectious disease....
Sore Throat or Strep Throat? How to Tell the Difference
Explore the types and causes of a sore throat through pictures, including strep throat, and learn how to find relief from that...
Strep (Streptococcal) Throat Infection Quiz: Test Your Infectious Disease IQ
Take the Strep (Streptococcal) Throat Infection Quiz to learn about causes, symptoms, treatments, prevention methods, diagnosis,...
Causes of Laryngitis
19 Tips on How to Stop a Cough
Coughing is a reflex that helps a person clear their airways of irritants. There are many causes of an excessive or severe...
An allergy refers to a misguided reaction by our immune system in response to bodily contact with certain foreign substances. ...
The common cold (viral upper respiratory tract infection) is a contagious illness that may be caused by various viruses. Symptoms...
Influenza (flu) is a respiratory illness caused by a virus. Flu symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, headache,...
GERD (Acid Reflux, Heartburn)
GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is a condition in which the acidified liquid contents of the stomach backs up into the...
Infectious mononucleosis is a virus infection in which there is an increase of white blood cells that are mononuclear (with a...
Larynx Cancer (Throat Cancer)
Symptoms of cancer of the larynx, the organ at the front of the neck, include hoarseness, a lump in the neck, sore throat, cough,...
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a highly contagious viral infection. Symptoms include fever and nasal congestion and...
Sinus Infection (Sinusitis)
Sinus infection (sinusitis) is caused by allergies, infection, and chemicals or other irritants of sinuses. Signs and symptoms...
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or...
Tonsillitis (Adnoiditis, Symptoms, Home Treatment, Pictures, Causes)
Tonsillitis is a contagious infection with symptoms of bad breath, snoring, congestion, headache, hoarseness, laryngitis,...
Other Causes of Laryngitis
- Bacterial Infection
- Fungal Infection
- Nerve Damage (Vocal Cord Paralysis)
- Polyps of the Larynx
- Smoke or Irritant Inhalation
- Use of Inhaled Steroids
- Viral Infection
- Vocal Cord Nodules
- Voice Overuse
Examples of Medications for Laryngitis
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter