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What is it

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, or voice box the part of the windpipe containing your vocal cords. To create speech, the vocal cords open and close. When they become swollen, the sounds become distorted or faint, or the ability to produce any sound may be lost.


  • Hoarseness (ranging from mild to severe loss of voice) and increasing difficulty in producing normal sound.
  • Scratchy throat, sometimes a sore throat, and a dry cough.
  • A frequent need to clear the throat.
  • Fever (occasionally).

What causes it

Acute laryngitis usually is caused by an infection, mainly viral but also bacterial. The other principal cause is overusing your voice. As the noise around you increases, you tend to shout over it and thus alter the quality of your voice. In addition, more people these days work in jobs requiring heavy telephone use. Trying to sound authoritative, people sometimes unconsciously pitch their voices lower than is really comfortable. Your vocal cords react just like any other tissue strained by overuse they resist, causing inflammation that results in hoarseness. Teachers, singers, public speakers, and others who use their voices a great deal or must speak loudly are at risk.

The causes of chronic laryngitis include smoking; exposure to fumes, chemicals, dust, or other irritants; mouth breathing; and frequent upper respiratory problems such as allergies, sinusitis, or bronchitis.

What if you do nothing

Acute viral laryngitis is rarely serious and usually clears up on its own within a few days. Persistent hoarseness, therefore, is a sign that something else may be the problem either a more serious bacterial infection or small benign growths (known as nodes or polyps) on your vocal cords caused by chronic irritation or even cancer.

Home remedies

Rest the voice

If you are hoarse or if your voice is squeaky, it’s important to rest your vocal cords. This means that for two or three days you should speak only when it is absolutely necessary, and to do so in a soft, breathy voice. Don’t whisper. That puts more pressure on your vocal cords than speaking softly. And try not to clear your throat instead, swallow several times or cough gently.

Keep your vocal cords well lubricated

First, increase your fluid intake drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water daily, which will help thin the mucus around the vocal cords. In addition, increase the humidity in your surroundings to 40 to 50 percent relative humidity. (If you use a humidifier or vaporizer, be sure to clean the device and any filters regularly.)

Avoid alcohol and cigarettes, which dry out the vocal cords. A glycerin throat lozenge may be helpful, but avoid cold pills containing decongestants or antihistamines, which may dry out your throat.


Here are some of the rules professional entertainers follow to protect their voices.

Avoid talking over background noise

Wait until the hubbub subsides so you don’t have to raise your voice unnecessarily.

Be aware of voice pitch

Don’t pitch your voice unnaturally high or low.

When using the telephone, speak softly

If you have to be on the telephone for long periods, a phone rest or a headset may lessen the strain on muscles in your face, throat, and neck, thus relieving some vocal cord tension. Try to rest your voice between telephone calls.

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