Is Laryngitis Contagious?

Reviewed on 11/29/2022

What Is Laryngitis?

Laryngitis caused by an infection can be contagious. Laryngitis, or inflammation of the vocal cords that causes hoarseness or voice loss, can also be caused by allergies, shouting, or environmental irritants and is not contagious in these cases.
Laryngitis caused by an infection can be contagious. Laryngitis, or inflammation of the vocal cords that causes hoarseness or voice loss, can also be caused by allergies, shouting, or environmental irritants and is not contagious in these cases.

Laryngitis is inflammation of the vocal cords that can result in hoarseness and even complete loss of voice.

Laryngitis can be acute, with a rapid onset and limited duration of symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Laryngitis?

Symptoms of laryngitis include the following:

What Causes Laryngitis?

The following are causes of laryngitis:

Is Laryngitis Contagious?

Laryngitis is a symptom, and it is not contagious in itself; however, some causes of laryngitis can be contagious.

Laryngitis caused by viral or bacterial infections can be contagious. Rarely, laryngitis may be caused by a fungus, which can also be contagious. However, most viruses, bacteria, and fungi that tend to cause laryngitis are not usually highly contagious types. 

Viruses, bacteria, and fungi are usually transmitted from person to person through respiratory droplets propelled into the air when an affected person coughs or sneezes. The germs may also be present in saliva and passed on through kissing.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Laryngitis?

Laryngitis is usually diagnosed with a medical history and physical examination. In order to diagnose the cause of laryngitis, tests may include the following: 

  • Laryngoscopy
  • Biopsy of laryngeal tissue 
  • Culture of the throat
  • Blood tests

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What Is the Treatment for Laryngitis?

Treatment for laryngitis depends on the cause. In many cases, home care to relieve symptoms may be all that is needed. For laryngitis due to...

  • Vocal strain: Rest your voice. Don’t whisper as this can worsen symptoms.
  • Smoking: Quit smoking.
  • Drinking alcohol: Limit alcohol intake.
  • Inhaling harsh chemicals: Avoid the chemical or ensure fresh air is coming into the place you are exposed to fumes or that ventilation fans are used.
  • Acid reflux: Treatments for acid reflux include the following:
    • Medications if recommended
    • Avoid foods that trigger or worsen symptoms such as alcohol, coffee, and chocolate.
    • Don't smoke.
    • Eat several small meals rather than two or three big meals.
    • Do not lie down for at least 3 hours after eating, especially after large meals.

Other home remedies to relieve symptoms associated with laryngitis include: 

  • Use a humidifier to moisten the air.
  • Get adequate rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Use menthol inhalers.
  • Gargle with warm salt water to soothe the throat.
  • Suck on throat lozenges. (Lozenges are not recommended for young children as they can be a choking hazard.)
  • Avoid dusty areas.
  • Don't take decongestants that can dry the throat.
  • In chronic or severe cases, medications to treat laryngitis may include the following:

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Reviewed on 11/29/2022
References
Shah, R.K. "Acute Laryngitis." Medscape. Sept. 11, 2020. <https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/864671-overview>.