Laryngitis is when your voice box or vocal cords in the throat become irritated or swollen. It usually goes away by itself within 1 to 2 weeks.

Check if you have laryngitis

Laryngitis usually comes on suddenly and gets worse during the first 3 days.

The main symptoms are:

Children can also:

Laryngitis is often linked to other illnesses, such as colds and flu, so you may also have other symptoms.

If you're not sure it's laryngitis, check other sore throat symptoms.

How you can treat laryngitis yourself

Laryngitis usually goes away on its own after 1 to 2 weeks and you do not need to see a GP.

There are some things you can do to help ease the symptoms.


  • try to speak as little as possible

  • drink plenty of fluids

  • keep the air moist by putting out bowls of water – central heating and air conditioning make the air dry

  • gargle with warm salty water (children should not try this)


  • do not talk loudly or whisper – both strain your voice

  • do not smoke

  • do not spend time in smoky or dusty places

  • do not drink too much caffeine or alcohol – they can cause dehydration

How to gargle with salty water
  1. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water. Warm water helps salt dissolve.
  2. Gargle with the solution then spit it out. Do not swallow it.
  3. Repeat as often as you like.

This is not suitable for younger children.

A pharmacist can help with laryngitis

Speak to a pharmacist about your sore throat.

They can give advice and suggest treatments, including:

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • your symptoms do not improve after 2 weeks
  • you keep getting laryngitis or voice problems

What happens at the GP appointment

The GP will try to work out what has caused your laryngitis.

They may:

If your laryngitis is caused by an infection, the GP might prescribe antibiotics.

Urgent advice: Contact 111 now if:

  • it's very painful or it's difficult to swallow

You can call 111 or get help from 111 online.

Immediate action required: Call 999 or go to A&E if:

  • you or your child are having difficulty breathing

Find your nearest A&E

What causes laryngitis

Laryngitis usually happens when you have an infection from a virus, such as cold or flu. A flu vaccination will help prevent you getting flu.

Other things that cause laryngitis include:

Page last reviewed: 17 January 2024
Next review due: 17 January 2027