What to do if you have a laryngitis


In the case of laryngitis (medical laryngitis) an inflammation of the larynx mucous membrane occurs, which is usually triggered by viruses.
However, other pathogens as well as voice overload and cigarette smoke can also be considered.

The leading symptoms of laryngitis are usually hoarseness to loss of voice and coughing. A scratchy throat is also typical.

As a rule, the laryngitis is harmless and heals within a few days if the sick person takes care of himself and uses simple home remedies to relieve the symptoms. In rare cases, swelling of the mucous membranes can lead to shortness of breath due to the anatomical proximity of the larynx to the airways, which must be treated urgently by a doctor.

Read more on the topic: Laryngitis

What treatment options are there?

Laryngitis is usually harmless and does not require any further treatment.

However, various home remedies can be used to relieve the discomfort.

  • First, you should speak as little as possible so that the mucous membranes in the larynx and the vocal folds can recover.
  • Inhalations and humidifying the room air help to supply the mucous membranes with moisture. The inflammation then heals more easily and the scratchy throat becomes more bearable.
  • You should also ensure that you drink enough.
    Water and herbal tea are particularly suitable.

Inhaling smoke and very dry air should be avoided at all costs so as not to irritate the stressed mucous membranes even more.

Medical treatment is indicated if symptoms do not improve over a long period of time or if you experience difficulty breathing.
If a bacterial pathogen is responsible for the laryngitis, antibiotic therapy can be used.

In the event of breathlessness, treatment must usually be given in hospital so that if the breathing situation deteriorates further, intubation (artificial respiration via a ventilation tube) can take place.
These patients are usually given cortisone, which causes the mucous membranes to swell and allows them to breathe again.

Fortunately, such emergencies are rare, but any shortness of breath in the case of a larynx infection should be taken seriously and treated immediately.

Also read: Home remedies for vocal cord inflammation

Home remedies

There are several home remedies that have been shown to be effective for relieving the symptoms of laryngitis.

Inhalation with steam is particularly good. Special inhalers or simply a bowl of hot water can be used for this. The water vapor moistens the mucous membranes and so relieves the scratching in the throat. In addition, when moistened, the mucous membranes can more easily free themselves of pathogens located there. Various additives can also be added to the water, for example thyme, sage, chamomile or salt.

Read more on the topic: inhalation

Other measures that serve to moisten the mucous membrane are also often used in the case of laryngitis.
This includes:

  • drinking warm herbal teas,
  • moistening the room air with wet towels,
  • sucking ice cubes and throat drops
  • or drinking cool water, which at the same time contributes to the swelling of the mucous membranes.
    Two spoons of apple cider vinegar can be added to the water. This has an anti-inflammatory effect.

The same goes for ginger and garlic. Ginger can be drunk as a tea. Ginger tea is very tasty with a little honey.
In addition, the honey itself has a calming effect on the throat and promotes the moistening of the mucous membrane.

A scarf and warm neck wraps can also relieve laryngitis. If there is significant swelling in the neck area, however, this should be avoided in order not to promote the swelling.

Otherwise, however, heat often has a positive effect. For the neck wrap, for example, warmed potatoes can be mashed and placed on a cloth. This is then thrown around the neck.
It is essential to ensure that the potatoes are not too hot, otherwise burns can occur.

Other home remedies used for laryngitis include lemon and onion. Lemon juice is very rich in vitamin C and has an expectorant effect.

However, drinking pure lemon juice can cause severe stinging if you have laryngitis. Therefore, the lemon juice should best be diluted with water or drunk as an addition to teas. Onions, chopped up and mixed with honey or sugar, can work wonders for laryngitis. Alternatively, the onion juice can also be drunk directly.

The onion as a home remedy

The onion is a popular home remedy for laryngitis because it:

  • expectorant,
  • reassuring
  • and works against agonizing throat irritation.

For preparation as a home remedy, the onion is best cut into small pieces, optionally mixed with sugar or honey and left in a closed container for a few hours. Then you can either just spoon the juice and take it throughout the day or eat the whole mixture including the onion pieces.
The onion pieces should be chopped up in the mouth for as long as possible so that the last of the juice can take effect.

In combination with honey, the onion helps particularly well, as the honey also has a calming effect on the irritated mucous membranes in the throat.

Neck wrap

Neck wraps are a popular home remedy for all colds. They are also often used for laryngitis.

Wraps can be prepared either cold or warm.
The most important thing is what is more comfortable for the person concerned.

Cool quark compresses around the neck can relieve pain and have a decongestant effect on the mucous membranes.

Warm wraps around the neck also have a pain-relieving and cramping effect and promote blood circulation in the mucous membranes.
If there is severe swelling, warm wraps should be avoided.

For the cool compresses, cold quark from the refrigerator is spread on a cloth. This is then placed around the neck and left there for about half an hour. Then the wrap is removed again.
For warm wraps, for example, potatoes can be boiled and then mashed with a fork. The potato pieces are left to cool for a while and placed on a cloth while they are warm. This is then placed around the neck. Depending on what feels better for the patient, both variants can be used for laryngitis.

Ice as a home remedy

Ice can help relieve the symptoms of laryngitis, as the cold has a decongestant effect on the mucous membranes.

However, ice cream containing sugar or milk should not be used, as this leads to increased mucus build-up in the throat and throat area, which is not beneficial for the healing of the inflammation. Instead, ice cubes or small sips of cold water should be used.

Too much ice, in turn, is not conducive to the healing of the larynx, but can rather delay the healing process by reducing the blood flow to the mucous membranes. Therefore, ice should only be used to a limited extent to reduce the swelling of the mucous membranes.

Home remedies for children

The home remedies that can be used for laryngitis do not differ between children and adults.

However, since children often do not like to drink the tart herbal teas, it is advisable to add honey to them.
Honey has a calming effect on the throat and is beneficial for laryngitis.

Depending on the age of the child, inhalations are also a popular home remedy to moisten the child's mucous membranes.
If this is not possible, humidifying the room air by hanging wet towels over the heater can help to keep the mucous membranes moist.

Another home remedy that is usually well tolerated by children is warm or cold compresses around the neck. These should only be left for about half an hour. Then a normal scarf can be worn. It is essential to ensure that warm compresses are not too hot, otherwise there is a risk of burns.

Read more at: Recognize and treat laryngitis in children

Medical therapy

In some cases it may be necessary to treat laryngitis with medication, for example if the symptoms do not improve with home remedies.

For more information, read on: Calyx medication.

When do I need an antibiotic?

An antibiotic for laryngitis is only useful and helpful if the laryngitis is caused by a bacterial pathogen.
Antibiotics only work against bacteria and cannot do anything against viruses.

However, since laryngitis is mostly caused by viruses, immediate antibiotic therapy is not indicated.
If a wait-and-see attitude using inhalations, sufficient amounts of water to drink and possibly other home remedies does not bring any improvement, antibiotic therapy can be tried after some time.

If a bacterial pathogen is directly detected, antibiotic therapy can also be started earlier.

Which antibiotic is the best?

Which antibiotic is best for laryngitis cannot be answered in this way, since the selection of the appropriate antibiotic depends on the pathogen in question.

There are many different bacteria that can cause infections. Since they differ in their properties, they are also differently sensitive to the various antibiotics. A so-called antibiogram can be used to find out which antibiotics are effective against a specific bacterium.

The pathogen is cultivated and then examined in the laboratory for its sensitivity to various antibiotics. The result is communicated to the doctor so that he can choose the right antibiotic.
However, the pathogen is not always detected directly, so that, after experience, it is treated with certain antibiotics to which most germs are sensitive.

In the respiratory tract, for example, they often occur

  • Amoxicillin,
  • Azithromycin,
  • Doxycycline
  • and other antibiotics are used.

When do you need cortisone?

Cortisone is usually only used in laryngitis when the person concerned develops shortness of breath.

This is caused by swelling of the larynx mucous membranes. Cortisone causes the mucous membranes to swell again and the patient can breathe again. In the event of shortness of breath, the person affected must be taken to a hospital as quickly as possible in order to receive optimal monitoring there.

Read more on the subject at: Effects of cortisone


Various pain relievers can be used for severe pain associated with laryngitis.
Usually, conventional preparations are sufficient to relieve pain, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Metamizole (Novalgin®) or Diclofenac (Voltaren®) can also be used if these drugs are intolerant or if the symptoms are severe.
If the pain does not improve, a medical evaluation is recommended.

Read more about this at: Treatment of larynx pain

What can you do about a cough?

Laryngitis can be accompanied by an uncomfortable throat irritation.

It is often enough to moisten the throat area sufficiently to relieve the urge to cough. Various herbal teas are suitable for this (for example thyme, peppermint, sage, chamomile) or ginger tea.
Honey mixed into tea also has a calming effect on the mucous membranes and can relieve the urge to cough.
The same applies to cough drops, for example sage drops, which soothe the irritated mucous membranes.

If these measures do not bring any improvement, medication can also be taken to counteract the urge to cough. Various preparations that are suitable for this are available in the pharmacy without a prescription. Persistent excruciating coughing urge to cough should be examined by a doctor, as there are also prescription drugs for strong coughing irritations, which can help in these cases.

Read more on the subject at: Home remedies for coughs

Homeopathy for laryngitis

In the case of laryngitis, various homeopathic medicines can be used as supportive therapy.

The different preparations are selected depending on the patient's exact symptoms and combined if necessary.
For example:

  • Allium cepa (kitchen onion),
  • Argentum nitricum (silver nitrate),
  • Spongia (sea sponge),
  • Causticus (Hahnemann's caustic),
  • Phosphorus (yellow phosphorus)
  • and Arum triphyllum (three-leaved arum).

For acute complaints, the potency D12 is usually used and can be taken up to every hour (3-5 globules each).
Since homeopathy has no proven scientific effects, a doctor should be consulted if the symptoms persist.

Treatment of reflux-related laryngitis

Reflux-related laryngitis occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. Heartburn develops.
In the case of severe reflux and, for example, an unfavorable sleeping position, this gastric acid can reach the larynx or cause long-term irritation there, causing laryngitis.

To avoid this chronic irritation, stomach acid must be contained.
This is done medically by means of so-called Proton pump inhibitors. These are special drugs that block the production of stomach acid in the stomach. This includes, for example, omeprazole.

At the same time, you should go for a gentle diet and avoid acidic foods as well as fatty and sweet dishes if possible.
Coffee, nicotine and alcohol consumption should also be avoided as these lead to increased gastric acid production.
Read more about this at: Diet for heartburn

Under these measures, in combination with drug therapy, gastric acid production is greatly reduced and the irritated larynx mucosa can be regenerated.

How long is the treatment duration?

Often laryngitis does not require treatment and disappears on its own within a few days.

If home remedies are used, it is sufficient to use them until the symptoms have subsided.

If antibiotic therapy is necessary, the attending physician will decide on the duration of the therapy.
This differs in length depending on the underlying pathogen and the antibiotic used. The duration of treatment is usually no longer than 10 days, but can vary for the reasons mentioned.

If complications such as shortness of breath occur as part of the laryngitis, the duration of treatment can also be longer, as this usually results in a hospital stay with cortisone therapy.

The duration of treatment depends largely on the course of the disease.