Answers to Common Ear, Nose, and Throat Questions

Premier Health providers answer frequently asked questions about ear, nose, and throat health.

What are the most common causes for laryngitis?

Dr. Laura Tully discusses the most common causes of laryngitis. Click play to watch the video or read the transcript.

What are the most common causes for laryngitis?

By far, the most common cause of laryngitis is a virus. I would say 90 to 95% of laryngitis is viral, which means no antibiotic is necessary. It will resolve on its own with rest, including voice rest as much as possible, as well as lots and lots of hydration. We would anticipate that the voice would return back to normal within one to three weeks as that virus runs its course. Very rarely patients can get a bacterial laryngitis. That typically is associated with being short of breath, difficulty breathing. Those patients typically wind up in the ER because of those shortness of breath symptoms, so that's very rare. 

Another type of laryngitis is called fungal laryngitis, where we see that more commonly in patients who are on inhaled steroids for asthma or COPD. That steroid puts them at higher risk of a fungal infection. If a patient is on a steroid inhaler, their voice isn't getting better after that one to three weeks, where we would anticipate a virus running its course, would be appropriate to have a scope evaluation. We can very clearly see when we're able to look at the vocal cords, there's white plaques on the vocal cords that are consistent with a fungal infection. They respond very well to just an anti-fungal medication.

   

Laryngitis happens when your vocal cords become inflamed or infected and swell. This can cause hoarseness – or losing your voice, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The most common kind of laryngitis is an infection caused by a virus. Other causes of laryngitis include:

  • Allergies
  • Bacterial infection
  • Bronchitis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Injury
  • Irritants and chemicals
  • Respiratory infection
  • For more information about the causes of laryngitis, talk with your doctor.

Learn more:

Source: Stewart Adam, MD, Premier ENT Associates; Jeffrey Adam, MD, Premier ENT Associates; Laura Tully, MD, Premier ENT Associates

Jeffery S. Adam, MD, FACS

Jeffery S. Adam, MD, FACS

Premier ENT Associates

View Profile