Laryngitis - Diagnosis

Authored by Dr Mary Harding, 04 Jun 2015

Patient is a certified member of
The Information Standard

Reviewed by:
Prof Cathy Jackson, 04 Jun 2015

Normally no tests are needed and the diagnosis can be made from your symptoms and from examining you. However, you will need further tests if your hoarse voice lasts for more than three weeks.

See a doctor if any of the following develop:

  • Symptoms that are severe or are different to those described above.
  • Difficulty breathing. If this is the case, contact a doctor or ambulance urgently.
  • A high temperature (fever) which does not settle after two days.
  • A hoarse voice (or change in your voice) which has not settled after three weeks.
  • Swollen neck glands which do not go within 2-3 weeks after an infection.
  • Swollen glands in the neck without symptoms of infection.
  • A lump in your neck (other than swollen neck glands, which should go away within a week or two).
  • Hoarseness or loss of your voice when you have had a recent operation to your neck.
If the hoarseness in your voice does not settle in three weeks, you should always see your doctor.

You will be referred to a specialist who can look down past your throat with a special instrument. This is called laryngoscopy. This is so they can find the cause of the laryngitis. Once the cause has been found, treatment can be advised. For example, if laryngitis is due to voice overuse, you may be referred to a speech therapist for exercises for your voice box (larynx). Or if it is due to acid reflux, you may need treatment for that.

Laryngoscopy also checks your hoarseness is not caused by anything more serious. Other less common causes for a hoarse voice are:

  • Non-cancerous (benign) lumps or nodules on vocal cords.
  • Tumours (cancer) on the vocal cords or nearby structures.
  • Problems with the nerve going to the vocal cords.

Further reading and references

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