Pharyngitis (patient information)
Pharyngitis On the Web
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Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx, which is in the back of the throat, between the tonsils and the voicebox (larynx).
What are the symptoms of Pharyngitis?
The main symptom is a sore throat.
Other symptoms may include:
What are the causes of Pharyngitis?
Many germs can cause pharyngitis.
- Viruses are the most common cause of pharyngitis. Many different viruses can cause pharyngitis.
- Bacteria that can cause pharyngitis include Group A streptococcus, which leads to strep throat in some cases. Other, less-common bacteria that cause sore throats include corynebacterium, arcanobacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Chlamydia pneumoniae.
Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months. The illness often spreads among family members.
Who is at highest risk?
Pharyngitis is contagious, so anyone in close proximity to someone with the illness, is at risk.
When to seek urgent medical care?
Call your health care provider if:
- You develop a sore throat that does not go away after several days
- You have a high fever, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, or a rash
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and look at your throat.
Tests to rule out strep throat may be done. Additional laboratory tests may be done depending on the suspected cause.
Seek immediate medical care if you have a sore throat and trouble breathing.
It is important to avoid antibiotics when a sore throat is due to infection with a virus. The antibiotics will not help. Using them to treat viral infections helps strengthen bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.
Most sore throats are soon over. In the meantime, the following remedies may help:
- Drink warm liquids. Honey or lemon tea is a time-tested remedy.
- Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water).
- Drink cold liquids or suck on popsicles.
- Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges to soothe your sore throat. This is often as effective as more expensive remedies. DO NOT use candies or lozenges in young children because of the choking risk.
- Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to moisten and soothe a dry and painful throat.
- Try over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen. DO NOT give aspirin to children.
Where to find medical care for Pharyngitis?
Directions to Hospitals Treating Pharyngitis
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
Most cases of pharyngitis go away on their own without complications.
Complications of pharyngitis may include:
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