Inflammation of the larynx which may involve surrounding structures, e.g. pharynx and trachea


  • Viruses: Para-influenza group, influenza − by far the most common cause. Usually acute (up to 3 weeks)
  • Excessive use of the voice, allergic reactions, inhalation of irritating substances, e.g. cigarette smoke,
    gastroesophageal reflux. Often chronic symptoms (>3 weeks)

Clinical features

  • Onset similar to any upper respiratory tract infection
  • Fever usually mild
  • Hoarseness

Differential diagnosis

  • Diphtheria, whooping cough
  • Laryngotracheobronchitis, epiglottitis
  • Bacterial tracheitis
  • Foreign body aspiration
  • Asthma
  • Airway compression by extrinsic mass (e.g. tumours, haemangioma, cysts)


  • Blood: Complete blood count
  • X-ray: Chest
  • Laryngeal swab for C&S


The cause is usually viral for which there is no specific treatment and no need for antibiotics

  • Give analgesics
  • Use steam inhalations 2-3 times daily
  • Rest the voice
  • For chronic laryngitis: identify and treat the cause