Laryngitis in Children: Care Instructions

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The larynx

Your Care Instructions

Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx) that causes your child's voice to become raspy or hoarse. It can be short-lived or long-lasting. Most of the time, laryngitis comes on quickly and lasts as long as 2 weeks. It is caused by overuse, irritation, or infection of the vocal cords inside the larynx.

Some of the most common causes are a cold, the flu, or allergies. Loud talking, shouting, cheering, or singing also can cause laryngitis. Stomach acid that backs up into the throat also can make your child lose his or her voice.

Resting the voice and taking other steps at home can get your child's voice back.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Follow your doctor's directions for treating the condition that caused your child to lose his or her voice.
  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Be careful with cough and cold medicines. Don't give them to children younger than 6, because they don't work for children that age and can even be harmful. For children 6 and older, always follow all the instructions carefully. Make sure you know how much medicine to give and how long to use it. And use the dosing device if one is included.
  • If your child has acid reflux, try to keep stomach acid from backing up into the throat. Have your child avoid eating just before bedtime. Have your child avoid or limit foods such as tomatoes, spicy foods, and chocolate. If the doctor says to, giving over-the-counter acid reducers can help when these steps are not enough. In some cases, your child may need prescription medicine.
  • Have your child rest his or her voice. Your child does not have to stop speaking but should use his or her voice as little as possible. Teach your child to speak softly but not whisper; whispering can bother the larynx more than speaking softly. Have your child avoid talking on the telephone or trying to speak loudly.
  • Tell your child to try not to clear his or her throat. This can cause more irritation of the larynx. Use an over-the-counter cough suppressant (if your doctor recommends it) if your child has a dry cough that does not produce mucus.
  • Keep your child away from smoke. Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke around your child or in your house.
  • Use a humidifier to add moisture to your child's bedroom. Humidity helps to thin the mucus in the nasal membranes that causes stuffiness or post-nasal drip. Follow the directions for cleaning the machine.
  • Have your child drink plenty of water to keep the throat moist.
  • If your child has problems breathing because of a stuffy nose, squirt a few saline (saltwater) nasal drops in one nostril. For older children, have your child blow his or her nose. Repeat for the other nostril. For infants, put a drop or two in one nostril. Using a soft rubber suction bulb, squeeze air out of the bulb, and gently place the tip of the bulb inside the baby's nose. Relax your hand to suck the mucus from the nose. Repeat in the other nostril. Do not do this more than 5 or 6 times a day.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or worse pain.
  • Your child has trouble swallowing.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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