What are the medicines & treatments for laryngitis?

Acute laryngitis usually gets better within 7 days without treatment, as your body’s immune system can usually take care of the infection by itself. There are some simple and effective ways you can relieve your symptoms, as well as taking over-the-counter medicines for pain and fever.

See your doctor if your symptoms get worse or if your symptoms don’t improve after 10 days.

Antibiotics won’t help treat your laryngitis

You can get laryngitis when you have a cold or flu (influenza). These infections are caused by viruses, so antibiotics won’t help. Antibiotics do not kill viruses.

Reviews of clinical studies have shown that antibiotics do not improve the symptoms of laryngitis. Taking antibiotics can also cause side effects such as diarrhoea.

Using antibiotics when you don’t need them can contribute to the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Find out more about the common side effects of antibiotics, what antibiotic resistance is and what you can do to prevent it.

What can I do to relieve my symptoms?

You should try to:

  • rest
  • drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic fluids
  • avoid smoking and exposure to cigarette smoke
  • inhale steam; this can help relieve a blocked nose. Supervise your child while they breathe in steam from a hot bath or shower in a closed room.
  • avoid speaking when possible.
Throat lozenges

Sucking a throat lozenge or an ice cube can help to soothe a sore throat. Image: Cindy Haggerty / Shutterstock.com

You can help soothe a sore throat by:

  • gargling with warm salty water
  • sucking on an ice cube or a throat lozenge
  • drinking hot water with honey and lemon; this can also be a simple and effective home remedy.

Medicines for relieving the symptoms of laryngitis

Paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin can help manage the symptoms of laryngitis such as a headache, sore throat and fever.

Medicines for relieving pain and fever

  • Adults and children older than 1 month can take paracetamol.
  • Adults and children older than 3 months can take ibuprofen.
  • The dose of paracetamol or ibuprofen for children is worked out according to how much the child weighs. Read more about measuring and administering a child’s dose of medicine.
  • Some people may not be able to take paracetamol or ibuprofen.
  • Do not give aspirin for pain or fever to children younger than 12 years as it may cause serious side effects.
  • Do not give aspirin to children younger than 16 years. This is because Reye’s syndrome, which can affect brain function and cause liver damage, has been associated with aspirin use in children (this is rare)*.

Fevers are common in young children, especially if they have a chest infection or after a vaccination. A fever (a temperature of 38.5°C or higher) doesn’t necessarily mean you or your child has a serious illness. In fact, a fever helps the body's immune system to fight infection.

Read more about paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin and how to treat a fever.

* Rare: fewer than 1 in 1000 children will experience the side effect.

Tips for using pain and fever medicines safely

  • Paracetamol and ibuprofen are common ingredients in some cold and flu medicines, so it’s important to check the active ingredients on the label of your medicine to avoid ‘doubling up’ and taking other medicines that also contain paracetamol or ibuprofen.
  • It’s important to tell your health professional about all the medicines you or anyone in your care is taking, including prescription, over-the-counter and complementary (‘herbal’ or ‘natural’ medicines and vitamin or mineral supplements). This is because all medicines, including herbal and natural medicines, can cause side effects and may interact with other medicines.
  • Some medicines cannot be taken by people with particular medical conditions, by people who are also taking certain other medicines, by young children, during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.

Phone for medicines information

Call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and mineral supplements) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia.