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Is Laryngitis Contagious?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx, part of the throat, characterized by voice loss and irritation of the vocal cords. This condition has many causes, including smoking, shouting, severe gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), and various allergies. The most common cause, however, is an infection, which could be either viral or bacterial. Inflammation can also be caused by some serious medical conditions such as tonsillitis, bronchitis, or even pneumonia. If caused by an infection, the disease causing the laryngitis may be contagious.

An infection of the upper respiratory track, such as a cold or the flu, can often cause laryngitis. A viral case cannot be treated with antibiotics, which means that a medical professional will prescribe rest, steam inhalations, and lots of fluids. This condition is usually not contagious and often goes away in a couple of days. Using a cool-mist humidifier in the bedroom and avoid smoking may also help. Because there are not many medications available to treat this inflammation, the best course of action is to treat the symptoms while waiting for the problem to go away on its own.

A doctor should always be consulted if a child experiences a swollen larynx.
A doctor should always be consulted if a child experiences a swollen larynx.

The presence of a fever usually indicates the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection. Bacterial laryngitis is contagious, and it's usually acquired from somebody else who is already sick. It can be spread until a day or two after the last symptom has disappeared and if the infection is serious, this may take several weeks. Aside from a high fever, other symptoms that indicate the presence of bacterial laryngitis are severe pain rather than a simple sore throat, difficulty swallowing, colored nasal discharge, and pain extending to the ears. This condition is especially serious in a child, since it can hide a severe condition called epiglottitis, where the airway closes almost completely.

Bacterial laryngitis can cause a fever.
Bacterial laryngitis can cause a fever.

People who think that they may have a bacterial throat infection should stay home and away from other people. In most cases, a medical professional will prescribe a course of antibiotics and recommend treating the symptoms at home with voice rest and hot drinks. Until the infection has cleared, it's better to minimize contact with others, as the infection can be spread without direct contact, through coughing. Most cases resolve in less than a week, after which is safe to return to a normal routine.

Discussion Comments


The fact that we catch viral laryngitis means it must be contagious or how would we get it?

I've been off work for a week and as I work with OAP's I won't go back until I'm clear. This can lead to developing fatal pneumonias in the elderly so stay away from the elderly until you're well.

Cocodamol for the pain and to suppress the cough(codeine), diclofenac (voltarol joint tab) occasionally for any inflammation related pain and is a great antipyretic. Use ibuprofen if you can't get diclofenac.


I recently had laryngitis for a week or so. It started off as a simple sore throat. Then my throat seemed really raw deep down into my throat. Then about four or five days into my sore throat, I had an escalated phone conversation; for less than a minute I raised my voice. And then it was gone. When I tried to speak it hurt and I sounded horrible. It became worse even though I had started drinking throat coat tea and a spoonful of honey and Riccola throat drops.

I went to the doctor and was prescribed some steroids for the swelling. It had become hard to swallow and breathe due to the swelling. She also gave me some pills for my cough, which she said I would develop once the swelling started to go down. I did not speak at work for a week. Normally, I talk on the phone all day so I was given paperwork all week.

After the week of voice rest which was very difficult, my voice was back. I still sound hoarse at times. I guess I am still healing. This was about three weeks ago. I am still healing my voice. I'm still not 100 percent.


I've had laryngitis for a couple of days some one told me I needed to rest my voice and drink plenty of warm fluids.

It is really annoying when I try to talk. I don't know how long it will last. I'm finding it a pain at the minute. I've also got this chesty cough, as well. I thought I was just getting a cold and then I got a sore throat. I don't think there is a lot you can do.


I have had these symptoms all week and here is what I did:

1. I sucked on a Ceprecol lozenge to numb my throat and then drank an ibuprofen and slippery elm bark pill (find at a health food store). It makes the throat slippery and it's easier to swallow. I dissolved them into an herbal tea and drank. It should only be 1/2 cup of liquid. Give it 20 minutes and do it again. Once you can swallow, take an ibuprofen four hours later, then Tylenol four hours after that, and off and on. Leave the humidifier on and don't talk. Hope you feel better soon. --Karen from Tucson


I have had acute laryngitis/pharyngitis for five days now. I still can't swallow. It's not from the pain; it's from something sending to my nose. I can't take the medicine properly if I can't swallow.

Help. I feel like I'm getting dehydrated. I sit in front of the sink for many hours just putting water in my mouth then spitting it out, but I need to eat and drink. It's been six days tomorrow.


I have had laryngitis for five weeks now. It started off as cold then a light sore throat then my voice going to a whisper. I've been back to the doctor twice and they say it is a virus and just to use my voice as little as possible.

My job involves being on the phone frequently and this, coupled with stress, seems to be the reason it is lingering. I have tried every remedy known to man but I am now in a familiar daily pattern of having a voice that is stronger in the morning and by the afternoon, I cannot project my voice and just whisper.


I have had laryngitis for 12 days and have been to the doctor twice. I got shots and medicine and I have done everything and I still can't talk. It's getting so depressing.


I get laryngitis at least 14 times a year, lasting about one 1 week every time. I have had the camera to look inside my voice box and all seems to be fine. I don't understand why I keep losing it.


I have had laryngitis for 12 days, yes 12. I am 36 weeks pregnant and have been to the doctor three times, and they assure me that it is viral, not bacterial and that antibiotics will not help.

It started with an upper respiratory infection, then a horribly sore throat and then a full blown loss of my voice. I feel so powerless and frustrated, and do not want to go into labor w/no voice.

I have been drinking a mixture that seems to be helping though:

2 tbsp. lemon juice (fresh is best)

3 cloves of garlic

1 tbsp. of honey

12 oz. of boiling water

Drink this then eat the garlic (chew slowly).

Also, I have been drinking 12-15 glasses of warm water/daily. It keeps me hydrated and soothes the throat. Hang in there. We will get better -- eventually.


@anon237014: It could certainly be heartburn, but you really need to see your OB/GYN and tell him or her about it in order to get some answers, and hopefully, some relief.


I am 27 months pregnant and about two weeks ago, my throat started to burn and went to my ears. I have no clue what is going on. I have no clue if it's part of my pregnancy. It is driving me crazy. I highly doubt it is heartburn. This is my first pregnancy and I've never had heartburn before. I really need help.


I lost my voice a few days ago and it has yet to come back. Should I go to the doctor? Or just wait it out? Is there anything i can do? I am dying! Help please!


Seven weeks of no voice and it just continues to get worse. I have lost all "squeakiness" and can now only talk at a whisper. When I do talk it is like trying to blow into a blocked tube it takes so much effort, but regular breathing is fine. I have had laryngitis before but it always means a bout of bronchitis.

I have had blood tests for all possible bacterial and viral causes, and we have ruled out my acid reflux as it is dormant right now. Went back on the pills just in case. Waiting to see an ear/nose/throat doc so they can check it out with a camera. My GP thinks it is a growth of some kind.


In the past 20 years I've had laryngitis (both acute and chronic) over a dozen times since my teens, and I promise that most of the questions posted here can be answered by reading and comprehending this short article. Bottom line: Don't panic -- most people know why their voice is hoarse (last night's loud event, lots of coughing from a cold, etc.). But if you've just magically lost your voice, were you around someone lately who's been sick? Is it allergy season and are the trees doing their thing? (Don't be surprised if pollen zaps your voice -- very typical!) Just pay attention to the severity of your symptoms and don't overreact: Hoarse/voiceless and have a simple sore throat? Then rest your voice (seriously, whisper only), stay hydrated, and expect it to return in seven to ten days, depending on how much you rest it. (If you're on the road to recovery and then go out and force your voice even one night, you can go back to square one. Don’t do it! If you don't have a voice at certain times of day then you've not healed completely -- don't be fooled, continue to rest!)

But if you've lost your voice for a couple days and your throat is truly, really sore (almost can't swallow, want to stomp and cry, feel like dying), your ears feel full/hot and you have a fever, you might want to see the doc, because it could be a treatable bacterial infection. Just be honest with yourself about your symptoms.

In most cases you're not contagious, just accept that you'll be The (frustrated) Whisperer for some days, and eat lots of garlic-laced chicken soup! And milkshakes are a great soother.


I get laryngitis about every other year. Sometimes it lasts a day and has lasted as long as a month. It comes back when it wants to. Viral laryngitis is not contagious and I have never given it to anyone else. Antibiotics do not work on viral laryngitis.

I seldom ever have a cold first, but sometimes a cough. I hate to tell you but your voice will clear when it wants to and the least amount of talking you do will help. I have had it this time for 2 weeks but it is now starting to clear.


I have some sort of laryngitis, but the catch is it's only showing during the morning and night. It's so annoying when trying to talk.


I have had no voice for one week - no voice at all. I am on antibiotics and doing everything suggested; fluids, lozenges, rest. But no hint of a voice still. I had to talk over people at a noisy event for five hours. And now I sit unable to work, talk etc. Very frustrating. I now have total respect for those with no voice ever.


Now four weeks with laryngitis. Started with flu symptoms and conjunctivitis for a week and then turned into this. Sore throat comes and goes but I need to talk at work. The doctor has told me to take week off and prescribed Amox, even its likely viral.


has anyone ever had laryngitis no voice with coughing and mucus?


I suggest just to ease up all the symptoms that you are experiencing, drink fluids frequently. even not a lot -- just enough to keep your throat and mouth wet. ginger ale is best for sore throat.


Oh hell, I can't believe it. I have had laryngitis for almost one week and my throat is killing me, but the weird thing is that I have no voice at all. I can't even talk on the phone. I am without a voice and my work depends on talking.

What is going on? I've had it for about five days. Has anyone else had this? Please share!


went to the doc today and found out I have laryngitis. doc gave me some meds to try and see if that helps. I do a lot of heaving but nothing there and no voice. how long does this last?


I think I have laryngitis. My voice is very hoarse, my throat is sore, I find it difficulty to talk. My whole body is aching, it feels as if someone has used me as a punching bag. my joints hurt, I am extremely hot the one moment and terribly cold the next. I have a dry cough and it hurts when I cough.

I have taken some coughing syrup and some corenza c

as I had the flu initially. It is not helping.


I'm not sure what it is I have but as far as I know it's laryngitis. I have no pain in my throat at all but it's hard for me to talk because my voice just isn't there. So basically I lost my voice. I've had this for four days now and it hasn't been getting better. I start work soon and it stinks to even go hang with my friends. I'm not even sure if I'm contagious or not.


I have had laryngitis for four weeks and my whole body is killing me. I have constant night temperatures and very fatigued. I'm not on antibiotics as doc says it's only viral not bacterial, even though I am expectorating dark green sputum! What do I do?


I have laryngitis and my doctor didn't say whether it is contagious or not. According to what's said here, I have a viral infection so it's not contagious because i have no fever. But my doctor prescribed antibiotics, and it's making me feel like i have a bacterial infection. Am i contagious?


I was outside when allergy season started, tree pollen blowing everywhere. I had allergic conjunctivitis and no voice the next day.

My office manager saw a show that said allergies cause the conjunctivitis but not laryngitis. Am I spreading germs to everyone? Still getting over lost voice, had to take a medrol dose pack to relieve inflammation.

Other people in my office have lost their voices but came back within a few days. I work in a family practice office.


i apparently have laryngitis, which stinks. i lost my voice completely last night and today. and then tomorrow is my first day of work. i'm trying every method i can to get rid of this stuff. --alicia 19


I have laryngitis and it hurts! My throat is so sore, it's like swallowing a golf ball all the time. Night time is the worst because through the day you can keep yourself hydrated and it's bearable. Doctor has given me antibiotics and I am taking them because I need this to go quickly!


i have a sore throat my voice sounds hoarse. i don't know if it's laryngitis or not. can it go in a week?


i've had laryngitis on and off now for three weeks. Some days seem to get better than it comes back. i have no fever and no cough or no sore throat, just trouble swallowing. Now i keep coughing on my own to get up green and yellow gunk. No dry heat in my house.

I'm a non-smoker and non-drinker I work out every day. It all began with scratchy voice three weeks ago. Sounds like one serious virus infection? Can you please help? -- Vinnie, new york city (also have no trouble breathing as well)


i had a throbbing nose on the first day - then two days of too much sputum ( spit ) white and frothy - felt i was drowning all the time. I went to the doc on the next day and he said it was laryngitis. then i could not swallow, drink or eat.


i just got laryngitis. how do i get rid of it? -ashley23


my aunt came and visited to a night and she had stated that she had laryngitis. but also stated that she is not contagious. should i be worried that my two year old will catch this. how do you tell the difference between viral and bacteria? can anyone help?


Lost my voice for four weeks now, and I am very hoarse. I am a teacher and definitely need to use my voice. It is very difficult to take off work to "rest my voice". Any comments or ideas as to what is going on with me?


Been reading some of the questions on here and from my understanding may be able to help answer some of them. If laryngitis is caused by a virus then yes you could spead the virus that caused it, but not necessarily laryngitis itself as everyone's immune system works differently. And as with any vrius, infection control is the important factor. If you are not coughing and sneezing everywhere and use good handwashing, then others should not contract your infection. I currently have laryngitis, but am past the stage of coughing etc. that caused it, so there is no reason that my lack of voice and irritated throat should be passed to anyone else, unless I go in for lots of kissing!


I think I have laryngitis. It hurts when I swallow and I can barely talk. My voice is hoarse. My throat doesn't feel irritated and scratchy, just swollen. Do you think it's laryngitis?


if it is a viral condition and i don't want to go to my doctor because he sucks and i've done some research. can i still go to the movies with my friend today and let her sleep over?


i just got laryngitis and was advised to stay home and rest my voice. i stay away at the moment from my baby because i don't want her to get the virus. doctors advised me to gargle salt and water three times a day and gargle aspirin as well three times a day and i need to take some antibiotics with a lot of fluid.

my throat hurts like it's burning up to my ears and sometimes i suddenly can't breathe coz it's blocking my throat and it really hurts. the first night i thought i only had a normal sore throat and on the third day i lost my voice. at night i got a fever and now i still can't talk that much.

if it's airborne, is there still a possibility that my baby can get the virus even though i don't go near her?


I have a sore throat, and loss of my voice. My best friend has laryngitis, and I drank off her drink and hung out with her. Is it possible to be contagious? Can anyone answer my question?

Also my symptoms are: dry cough, sore throat, very croaky in the morning, and I woke up with hive's on my stomach, but I believe that was from a food. What shall I do?


I have a severe sore throat, but no sign of a fever. My friend's mom is a doctor and i was told i have laryngitis. She didn't say whether it was bacterial or viral. How can i tell?


My throat's really sore, got symptoms of Laryngitus. Does your voice go all croaky?


How is a viral laryngitis NOT contagious if the underlying cause is the cold or flu? Wouldn't you then be able to spread a cold or flu?


so 6 days ago i had a slight lasted 2 days.. just a fever... then i was fine. its been 5 days and now i have no voice..with mild sore throat and the dry cough occasionally. so does the fever 5 days ago mean i have bacterial laryngitis or is it separate and i have viral laryngitis? i know i have it but just wasn't sure if they were connected.. symptoms at this point are nothing except mild sore throat, occasional dry cough and either absolutely no voice or wind breaks with high pitched air noises. no swollen lymph nodes and im not congested....please help id like to know if im contagious :(


My friend just gave me laryngitis and it really stinks. i sometimes have to gasp for air or heave in a lot of air to keep me breathing.

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