A person sitting down with a blanket and mug, holding their throat. Used tissues are scattered on a coffee table.

Do I Need Antibiotics for Laryngitis?

Laryngitis is caused by a virus. Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box, or larynx that causes your voice to become raspy or hoarse. Most coughs in adults and children are caused by viral infections of the respiratory tract. Antibiotics should be used for a cough only if the individual has pneumonia due to bacteria or tests positive for pertussis (whooping cough).

Why You Don’t Need Antibiotics for Laryngitis

Because laryngitis is caused by a virus, antibiotics do not work to treat laryngitis.

Symptoms of Laryngitis

  • Hoarseness
  • Weak voice or voice loss
  • Sore or dry throat
  • Cough

Management of Laryngitis

  • Drink plenty of fluids such as water.
  • Cough suppressants may help older children and adults.
    NOTE: Do not give these products to infants or children under the age of six years.
    NOTE: Cough syrup might also contain fever reducing medication. Read labels carefully and check with your pharmacist or doctor to avoid overdosing.
  • Plain cough drops or lozenges may help older children and adults. Avoid antibacterial cough drops because they can lead to antibiotic resistance.
    NOTE: Cough drops should not be given to children less than six years of age because of the risk of choking.

In British Columbia, you can call HealthLink BC (at 8-1-1) or visit if you need advice or are unsure of the best course of action.

Speak to your primary health care provider if you are worried by the way your child is behaving, they are having trouble swallowing or having trouble breathing.

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