11 Home Remedies for Laryngitis

When you have laryngitis, there are things you can do to make your raspy, hoarse voice sound like you again. Poprotskiy Alexey/Shutterstock

Maybe you're fighting a cold or the flu. Or perhaps you sung your heart out at a concert or cheered too loudly at a ballgame. Now you're paying the price with laryngitis, an inflammation of your voice box (larynx) that causes your voice to become scratchy or hoarse or maybe even disappear completely.

Laryngitis can be short-term or chronic. Most often, it comes on quickly and lasts no more than a couple of weeks. Temporary laryngitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection or vocal strain. Long-lasting laryngitis may be due to acid reflux (also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD), irritants such as smoke or allergens, chronic sinusitis, or smoking.

In the grand scheme of medical ailments, laryngitis isn't usually a big one; it's typically more irritating than serious. But when your voice dives a couple octaves or it's cracking like the voice of a teenager going through puberty, it's no fun. Here are some laryngitis home remedies you can try to get your voice box back to normal. Remember, if symptoms last for more than two weeks, see your doctor.

Rest your voice

cartoon of couple yelling which can cause laryngitis
When you have laryngitis, it's key that you rest your voice. Don't talk and definitely don't whisper. Diego Schtutman/Shutterstock

If the cause of your laryngitis is too much yelling, talking or singing, give your vocal cords a break. Try not to talk. When you do, speak softly, but don't whisper. Whispering puts more of a strain on your voice than talking does.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of fluids, especially warm ones like soups and teas, but skip alcohol and caffeine, which will dehydrate you.

Keep your throat moist

Suck on lozenges or sugar-free hard candy, or try chewing gum. The goal is to keep your throat from feeling even scratchier.

Breathe moisture

woman taking a shower - steam can help laryngitis
Steam from a hot shower can help you breathe in moisture. Glaze Image/Shutterstock

Inhale the steam from a hot shower or fill a bowl of hot water and put your head over the vapors. Try a warm or cold air humidifier or vaporizer to add moisture to the air in your home.

Try not to clear your throat

When your voice sounds funny and you feel tickling or scratching in your throat, it's natural to want to try to cough and clear it out. But that won't help and it might make things worse. If you have a cough with your laryngitis, try an over-the-counter cough medicine instead.

Try gargling

Soothe your throat throughout the day by gargling with 1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed in a glass of warm water. Don't overdo the salt because that might make the irritation worse.

Sip honey

jar of honey - often used to soothe sore throats
Mix some honey in a cup of warm tea to help soothe your laryngitis. Vladimir Kovalchuk/Shutterstock

Add a teaspoon of honey to warm tea. Honey is often used to ease sore throats; it may help soothe laryngitis too. Some professional speakers and singers like taking straight honey with a dash of lemon juice, but others argue that because lemon is acidic, it may make irritation worse.

Or try popsicles

If salt water doesn't sound appealing, try something tastier and icier. Popsicles may be more comforting.

Consider herbs

Although there's not a lot of scientific research in the area, some people have success with various herbal remedies. Eucalyptus, for example, may help soothe an irritated throat. It's available in lozenges, cough syrups and teas. (Don't take eucalyptus oil by mouth, however, because it can be toxic.) Similarly, peppermint can be soothing for sore throats and dry coughs. Licorice root is another common herbal remedy for sore throat irritation, but take it with caution. Licorice interacts with many medications and should be off-limits to people with many medical conditions including heart disease, kidney disease and liver disease.

Suck on ginger

ginger root - a powerful anti-inflammatory can help ease laryngitis
Ginger can be used in tea to help ease laryngitis. mama_mia/Shutterstock

Fresh ginger can help soothe inflamed mucous membranes of the larynx, David J. Hufford, Ph.D. of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine, writes in How Stuff Works. He suggests sucking on candied ginger or drinking a cup of ginger tea. To make the tea, Hufford says: Cut a 1- to 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root into thin slices and place in 1 quart of boiling water. Cover the pot and simmer on the lowest heat for 30 minutes. Let cool for 30 more minutes, strain, and drink 1/2 to 1 cup three to five times a day. Sweeten with honey if needed.

Don't smoke or drink

If you smoke, try to stop. If you drink, knock that off, too. Both can cause laryngitis or definitely make it worse if you already have it.

View Article Sources
  1. Wood, John M., et al. “Laryngitis.” BMJ, vol. 349, 2014, pp. g5827., doi:10.1136/bmj.g5827

  2. Feierabend, Raymond H., and Malik N. Shahram. “Hoarseness in Adults.” American Family Physician, vol. 80, no. 4, Aug. 2009, pp. 363–70.

  3. "Voice Care: Sorting Fact from Fiction." The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

  4. Mijanur Rahman, Mohammad, et al. “Neurological Effects of Honey: Current and Future Prospects.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: ECAM, vol. 2014, 2014, p. 958721., doi:10.1155/2014/958721

  5. "Eucalyptus Oil Overdose." NIH MedlinePlus.

  6. "Licorice Root." National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.

  7. "Hoarseness: Frequently Asked Questions." Cleveland Clinic.