Most laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx (voice box) caused by viral or bacterial infection of the upper respiratory system. The characteristic hoarseness may become so severe that the voice is temporarily lost. Other symptoms are those of any upper respiratory infection: fever, chills, sore throat, headache, and a weakened, run-down feeling.
Treat upper respiratory laryngitis as you would any severe cold or fluwithbed rest, fluids, aspirin or another analgesic, perhaps a cough suppressant. Give your voice a complete rest. Don’t smoke or drink alcoholic beverages until it has returned to normal. Hoarseness from irritants Occasionally the cause is an irritant, such as tobacco smoke or alcohol, or overuse of the voice from prolonged shouting, speaking, or singing. Ceasing the irritant should heal the condition; throat lozenges may help to soothe the irritated larynx.
Laryngitis that persists for more than a week maybe chronic. It usually afflicts those who smoke or drink heavily or whose working environment forces them to breathe dust or fumes. Sometimes the underlying cause is chronic bronchitis or sinusitis. If so, treat the root problem.
Don’t ignore persistent or excessive hoarseness, especially if no other symptoms are present. It could be a sign of a more serious condition, such as tuberculosis or a tumor of the larynx. See a doctor if any bout of laryngitis lingers more than 10 days.