Laryngitis: Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, and Prevention


The larynx houses our vocal cords and is integral to speech. The condition known as laryngitis can arise when the voice box becomes inflamed, whether due to overuse, infection, or some other form of irritation. Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat was established more than 25 years ago and our highly trained specialists offer effective laryngitis treatment. If you live in the Baltimore, MD, area and are experiencing the symptoms of laryngitis, prompt treatment by our team can restore normal speech while protecting your vocal cords.

Symptoms of Laryngitis

Laryngitis is commonly associated with difficulty speaking. The condition causes the vocal cords to become swollen, which distorts sound as it passes over them. As a result, many people who suffer from laryngitis are said to have a voice that sounds hoarse.

Laryngitis can be acute or chronic. For individuals with severe symptoms, speech may be nearly inaudible. Common symptoms of laryngitis include:

  • A weak voice
  • Sore, raw, or dry throat
  • Persistent cough
  • Pain while swallowing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Difficulty swallowing

If your symptoms include trouble breathing, coughing up blood, or increasing pain, you should seek immediate medical help. Many of these symptoms overlap with cold or flu symptoms. During your exam at our Baltimore office, we will determine whether your laryngitis is caused by a cold or another form of irritation.

Illustration of healthy vs. inflamed vocal cords

Laryngitis causes causes the vocal cords to become irritated and swollen.

Risk Factors for the Condition

During your exam at our Baltimore medical clinic, your doctor will begin by looking for connections between your laryngitis symptoms and known risk factors. These include:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Colds
  • Sinusitis
  • Overuse of your voice, whether by speaking or singing

Most cases of acute laryngitis are caused by viral infections or overuse of the vocal cords. In these cases, bed rest, refraining from excessive speech or singing, and time can resolve the underlying causes.

Causes of Chronic Laryngitis

If the symptoms of laryngitis persist for more than three weeks, the condition is then considered chronic. In these cases, the doctor will look for other causes of laryngitis, which may include:

  • A vocal cord polyp
  • Inhaled irritants
  • Exposure to workplace chemicals
  • Habitual overuse of the vocal cords
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol use

Treatment Options

Your doctor will examine your vocal cords while inquiring into your personal habits and medical history when diagnosing the cause of your laryngitis. To examine your throat, he may use a special light (endoscope) to view your larynx. This is known as a laryngoscopy. In some rare cases, a biopsy may need to be performed.

Chesapeake Ear Nose & Throat was established more than 25 years ago and our highly trained specialists offer effective laryngitis treatment.

Your treatment will depend on the cause of your symptoms. For some patients, behavioral changes, such as quitting smoking or drinking, may be recommended. Environmental changes may be needed so patients can avoid irritants. Medications to address infection, heartburn, or inflammation may also be prescribed.

Preventative Tips for Laryngitis

Our team offers these simple tips for preventing laryngitis.

  • Quit smoking or avoid secondhand smoke
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid foods that cause heartburn, such as spicy foods
  • Eat a nutritious and plant-based diet
  • Avoid situations where you have to speak loudly or forcefully
  • Minimize upper respiratory infections by washing your hands or avoiding contact with infected individuals

Contact Our Office Today

Laryngitis is a common condition that is easily treatable and preventable when certain precautions are taken. If you are having difficulty speaking, reach out to our team. You may simply have a cold or there may be a more serious underlying cause of your symptoms. To schedule an appointment, contact our office online or call (410) 356-2626.