Laryngitis

Symptoms of laryngitis

Symptoms of acute laryngitis can begin suddenly and usually get worse over a period or two to three days. After this time, your symptoms should improve and you will usually feel much better within a week.

The symptoms of laryngitis include:

  • hoarse voice,
  • throat pain,
  • difficulty speaking,
  • sore throat,
  • mild fever,
  • headache,
  • irritating cough, and
  • a constant need to clear your throat.

If you have laryngitis, you may not be able to talk at all, or you may only be able to whisper or croak. This will usually get worse as the day progresses and it happens because the vocal cords are inflamed. Your croaky voice may last for a week after the other symptoms have gone.

Other symptoms

Laryngitis is often linked to another illness, such as a cold, flu, throat infection (pharyngitis) or tonsillitis. Therefore, you may also experience a number of other symptoms, such as swollen neck glands, runny nose, pain on swallowing and feeling tired and achy.

Chronic laryngitis takes longer to develop and can last for weeks or even months. It can lead to lasting hoarseness as a result of permanent damage to the larynx. Chronic laryngitis commonly recurs, particularly in people who overuse their voice, such as professional singers or teachers who are unable to rest their voice for any length of time.

Occasionally, swelling of the larynx may cause breathing difficulties. This is not common in adults but can occur in young children who have smaller, narrower windpipes.

Seek medical help from your GP as soon as possible if you or your child experience difficulty breathing.

Glossary

Acute
Acute means occurring suddenly or over a short period of time.
Pain
Pain is an unpleasant physical or emotional feeling that your body produces as a warning sign that it has been damaged.
Fever
A high temperature, also known as a fever, is when someone's body temperature is 38°C (100.4°F) or higher.
Inflammation 
Inflammation is the body's response to infection, irritation or injury, which causes redness, swelling, pain and sometimes a feeling of heat in the affected area.
Chronic
Chronic usually means a condition that continues for a long time or keeps coming back.
Last updated: 04 October 2011

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