What are the symptoms of viral laryngitis?
You may feel sore over the front of your neck and become hoarse shortly afterwards. Your voice usually sounds different to normal. It may come out as a croak or a squeak, be husky, or just sound a bit different. The voice sometimes goes and you may only be able to whisper. Some people are alarmed by this. However, it is only temporary whilst the vocal cords are inflamed during the infection. You may also have a mild high temperature (fever) and a cough. Sometimes laryngitis is part of a more widespread infection. For example, you may also have a sore throat (pharyngitis), tonsillitis, a cold or a flu-like illness. In these situations, you may also have other symptoms such as:
- A sore throat.
- A headache.
- Feeling tired.
- Swollen glands in your neck.
- A runny nose.
- Pain when you swallow.
- General aches and pains.
How long does it last?
A typical viral laryngitis gets worse over 2-3 days. It then eases and goes, usually within a week. However, you may have a croaky voice for a week or so even after the other symptoms have gone. This is because the inflammation of the vocal cords may take a while to settle after the virus has gone.
Are there any complications?
Breathing difficulty is an uncommon complication. This may occur if there is a lot of inflammation and swelling in the voice box (larynx), which causes the windpipe (trachea) to narrow. This is rare in adults but sometimes happens in young children with smaller, narrower windpipes. See a doctor urgently if you have any difficulty in breathing with laryngitis.
Further reading and references
Reveiz L, Cardona AF; Antibiotics for acute laryngitis in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Mar 283:CD004783. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004783.pub4.
Wood JM, Athanasiadis T, Allen J; Laryngitis. BMJ. 2014 Oct 9349:g5827. doi: 10.1136/bmj.g5827.
Feierabend RH, Shahram MN; Hoarseness in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Aug 1580(4):363-70.
Hi everyone, I am from Australia, Sydney and have been having severe throat ache. My dr did not do me swab tests but the doctos reckon it's tonsillitis bacteria. I am so angry they didn't do a swab....amanda26306
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