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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Hoarse or lost voice (laryngitis)

Reo whango, reo ngaro rānei (mate paeoro)

Laryngitis (lar-in-jite-iss) is caused by a problem with your vocal cords, which are the moving parts of your larynx (voice box). This can make your voice sound croaky, strained or weak.

Other symptoms of laryngitis are a sore throat, dry cough, mild fever and a constant need to clear your throat.

Causes of hoarse or lost voice

Laryngitis is usually caused by a virus, and it can often be part of another illness, such as the flu, tonsillitis or a sore throat. Rarely, it can be caused by a bacterial infection.

If your hoarse voice lasts longer than three weeks it might be due to something else, such as:

Self-care with hoarse or lost voice

Treating hoarse or lost voice

Laryngitis usually gets better by itself within a week, without any treatment.

You do not usually need antibiotics as they do not work against a virus.

If your hoarse voice does not go away within three weeks, you should see your general practice team.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed October 2023.

See also:

Tips for looking after your voice


Page reference: 135476

Review key: HIHOV-135476