In laryngitis, the laryngeal mucosa and vocal cords are inflamed. Here you're informed of everything important!


At a Laryngitis (Laryngitis), the laryngeal mucosa and vocal cords become inflamed. This often happens with various respiratory infections - such as a cold - or when the larynx is heavily irritated. The main symptom of laryngitis is hoarseness. If it lasts for several weeks, it is called chronic laryngitis.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in doctor's letters or on incapacity certificates. J05J38J04J06J37

Product Overview


  • description

  • symptoms

  • Causes and risk factors

  • Examinations and diagnosis

  • treatment

  • Disease course and prognosis

Laryngitis: description

A laryngitis is a condition that affects children and adults of all ages. The main symptoms of laryngitis are a broken voice and sore throat. Often, laryngitis develops in connection with an upper respiratory tract infection, such as a flu or cold. In addition to the larynx, the sinuses (sinusitis), the pharyngitis (pharyngitis) and / or the bronchi (bronchitis) often become inflamed. However, laryngitis can also occur singly, for example, when your voice is heavily loaded or smokes a lot.

Physicians differentiate depending on the duration of two forms of laryngitis:

  • The acute laryngitis is usually triggered by an infection with viruses or bacteria. Those affected usually feel ill for a few days, have a sore throat, cough, and above all, they are hoarse - sometimes the voice does not work at all anymore. Usually the acute laryngitis heals without consequences.
  • The chronic laryngitis lasts longer than three weeks. It can develop from untreated acute laryngitis, but also when the larynx and vocal cords are permanently stressed. Sometimes other diseases (such as gastric reflux disease) also cause chronic laryngitis.

In addition to the normal laryngitis, two other special forms are possible, which play a role especially in children:

Krupp syndrome

Krupp syndrome is another name for acute stenosing laryngotracheitis. To distinguish them from the "real" Krupp disease, doctors often refer to them as pseudo-Krupp. This disease mainly affects children between six months and three years old. The Krupp syndrome manifests itself mainly in a hoarse voice, a barking cough and morbid sounds when inhaling (inspiratory stridor). In addition to the laryngitis, the mucous membrane in the larynx and trachea is so swollen in the affected children that the airways are narrowed and the throat feels like constricted. A strong swelling may cause respiratory distress in the affected child.


Another, now rare disease is the so-called epiglottitis. Mostly it affects children between the ages of two and six years. This is a special form of laryngitis, in which especially the epiglottis, which sits at the "entrance" of the larynx, is inflamed. In epiglottitis, the epiglottis and larynx strongly swell; the child has a high fever, heavy dysphagia, shortness of breath and speaks "kloßig". An epiglottitis is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention!

Laryngitis: symptoms

As a rule, laryngitis develops symptoms that are very characteristic. The main symptom is hoarseness: The voice is less loadable, sounds scratchy changed (dysphonia) or fails completely, so that only a whisper is possible (Aphonie). This is because the larynx, with vocal folds and vocal cords, is responsible for making the sounds of speaking, singing, and screaming.

Furthermore, in laryngitis, symptoms such as:

  • Sore throat
  • difficulties swallowing
  • cough
  • frequent hawking
  • Foreign body sensation ("lump in throat")
  • possibly fever (acute laryngitis)

Laryngitis: causes and risk factors

A laryngitis can have various causes. Mostly the reason is one Infestation of the respiratory tract with viruses, sometimes in addition to bacteria. Possible pathogens are, for example, parainfluenza and influenza viruses (influenza viruses), rhinoviruses and adenoviruses. In addition, bacteria can colonize on the attacked mucous membranes, especially streptococci.

Some factors make the neck particularly susceptible to laryngitis, for example, when one is straining his voice (e.g., singer, teacher).This is especially true for people who often inhale dry air, dust, chemical vapor or irritant pollutants such as cigarette smoke.

Other diseases can cause laryngitis. For example, anyone who has a chronically congested nose due to allergies almost only breathes through the mouth, thus favoring throat and laryngitis. This may also be the case with chronic sinusitis or a bent nasal septum. In people with a reflux disease gastric juice gets into the esophagus again and again - this can cause the larynx to inflame.

Is laryngitis inflammatory?

Whether a laryngitis is contagious depends on its cause. An acute laryngitis is usually due to an infection with viruses and / or bacteria - and these germs can be quite contagious. Influenza viruses, for example, spread by being ejected in the form of tiny droplets when talking or coughing and inhaled by other people. How strong and how long a laryngitis is contagious can vary depending on the pathogen.

Laryngitis: examinations and diagnosis

First, the doctor asks for suspected laryngitis, symptoms such as sore throat, coughing and hoarseness. Most people with acute laryngitis are looking for the doctor because of typical cold symptoms. He first performs a general physical examination and looks into the patient's mouth to see if the neck is red, or the tonsils are swollen.

If the patient is conspicuously hoarse or complains of pain in the larynx area, the doctor specifically looks at the larynx for diagnosis. For this he uses a so-called laryngoscope, a small hand-held device that is specially designed to look at the larynx. The doctor can examine the larynx and vocal cords via a mirror. In children or people with severe gagging, the doctor uses a flexible, tubular laryngoscope that is inserted over the nose.

In laryngitis, a reddened and thickened laryngeal mucosa appears in the laryngoscope. The vocal cords are usually red and swollen, and in acute laryngitis also often covered with viscous mucus and whitish or purulent linings. The doctor may make a swab of the inflamed tissue, which can be used to detect the exact pathogen.

Laryngoscopy is usually performed by an ear, nose and throat doctor (ENT specialist). It also serves to rule out other diseases, such as tuberculosis or a laryngeal tumor. This is especially important for smokers. In case of doubt, the doctor takes a tissue sample of the laryngeal mucosa (biopsy) to be examined in the laboratory for cell changes.

Laryngitis: treatment

If the laryngitis is based on a viral infection, it usually can not be treated causally. Only if additional bacteria are involved in the laryngitis, prescribes the doctor if necessary antibiotic, which specifically combats the pathogens.

In addition, only helps to protect the neck and let the laryngeal mucosa to decay at rest. The following measures can help the body:

  • Try to drink as much as possible despite swallowing - especially water and not too hot herbal teas.
  • Protect your voice.
  • Do not smoke!
  • Avoid dusty and dry air.
  • Avoid hot and spicy foods as well as alcohol.

Can home remedies help with laryngitis?

Some sufferers use home remedies to treat laryngitis. For example, it may be helpful to inhale hot water vapor and saline solutions to moisturize the airways. You can also add eucalyptus oil or camomile to the water. Potato wraps and quark rolls are also popular home remedies for laryngitis.

Chronic laryngitis: treatment often tedious

Chronic laryngitis is often not as well treated as an acute one. Here it is very important that you spare your voice and generally irritate the respiratory system as little as possible. If you smoke, you should definitely stop it! The doctor may prescribe a cortisone preparation. It has an anti-inflammatory effect and reduces the swelling.

It also happens that chronic laryngitis is associated with a problem with voice formation. In that case, it may be helpful to visit a speech therapist. If another condition is behind the laryngitis, such as chronic inflamed sinus or reflux disease, it is important to treat it.

Laryngitis: Disease course and prognosis

An acute laryngitis usually runs uncomplicated and heals within a few days without further consequences. However, those who do not spare enough, who talk or smoke a lot during this time, risk the transition to a chronic form.

Even chronic laryngitis can develop completely back if it is recognized and treated in time. However, relapses are relatively common. Consists of the chronic Laryngitis Over a longer period of time, it can lead to changes in the laryngeal mucosa and the formation of polyps (mucosal proliferation). In some cases, too many mucous glands (laryngitis hyperplastica) develop or the mucous glands completely stop working (laryngitis sicca). In a morbidly altered and thickened laryngeal mucosa increases the likelihood that the cells degenerate and develop a cancer of the larynx.

Read more about the therapies

  • artificial respiration
  • intubation

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