Acute laryngitis

​Laryngitis is a respiratory tract infection often associated with the swelling of the mucous membranes and subglottic stenosis. Laryngitis may be caused by a number of viruses. Children react differently to the same virus – some may only suffer a runny or blocked nose.



Approximately 10 % of all children catch laryngitis at least once. In some children, another viral infection may cause the condition to recur. Laryngitis is more common in boys than in girls. Children usually outgrow their tendency for laryngeal stenosis when they reach school age.



  • hoarse voice
  • hollow, barking cough
  • breathing becomes noisy, difficulty in breathing which is made worse by crying
  • onset usually during the night
  • the most difficult phase lasts 2 to 3 days, cough may persist for over a week
  • fever during the first couple of days


Looking after a sick child at home



Lying down contributes to the swelling of the mucous layers in the upper respiratory tracts. Elevate the child's head by placing pillows under the mattress, or let the child sleep in an armchair or pushchair. Make sure the child is not in danger of falling!

Cool ambient air

Cool air reduces swelling of the mucous membranes. Make sure the bedroom temperature is comfortably cool.


Symptoms include fever and a sore throat. Ease the symptoms by administering antipyretics and/or analgesics (paracetamol, ibuprofen, naproxen). You can give your child over-the-counter cough medicines, although their effect is usually very limited. Antibiotics do not work because the infection is caused by a virus.

Steam inhalation

Breathing may be easier, if the air is humid. Run hot water in the bathroom to accumulate steam and then take the child into the bathroom. To prevent burns, never use bowls of hot water for steam inhalation.

First aid

If your child wakes up at night and has difficulty breathing, hold him or her upright and go outside where the air is cool. If breathing does not become easier in 5 to 10 minutes, seek medical assistance.

Seek medical assistance when inhaling is noisy also when your child is calm and in an upright position. If inhaling is only noisy when the child is crying or coughs, the condition can be monitored at home.

Treatment provided in a health center and/or hospital


Vaporised adrenaline is administered to quickly reduce swelling. However, this method can only be used as first aid, because the effects of adrenaline do not last long. Cortisone is administered orally or intramuscularly to reduce swelling. Home care methods are also applied at the health center/hospital.