What Is Pharyngitis
Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx, which is in the back of the throat. It’s most often referred to simply as “sore throat.” Pharyngitis can also cause scratchiness in the throat and difficulty swallowing.
According to the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), pharyngitis-induced sore throat is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits. More cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months of the year. It’s also one of the most common reasons why people stay home from work. In order to properly treat a sore throat, it’s important to identify its cause. Pharyngitis may be caused by bacterial or viral infections.
Causes of Pharyngitis
There are numerous viral and bacterial agents that can cause pharyngitis. They include: measles, adenovirus, which is the cause of the common cold, chickenpox, croup, which is a childhood illness distinguished by a barking cough, whooping cough.
Viruses are the most common cause of sore throats. Pharyngitis is most commonly caused by viral infections such as the common cold, influenza, ormononucleosis. Viral infections don’t respond to antibiotics, and treatment is only necessary to help relieve symptoms.
Less commonly, pharyngitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections require antibiotics. The most common bacterial infection of the throat is strep throat, which is caused by Group Astreptococcus. Rare causes of bacterial pharyngitis include gonorrhea, chlamydia, and corynebacterium.
Frequent exposure to colds and flus can increase your risk for pharyngitis. This is especially true for people with jobs in healthcare, allergies, and frequent sinus infections. Exposure to secondhand smoke may also raise your risk.
Symptoms of Pharyngitis
The symptoms that accompany pharyngitis vary depending on the underlying condition.
In addition to a sore, dry, or scratchy throat, a cold or flu may cause:
sneezing, runny nose, headache, cough, fatigue, body aches, chills,fever (a low-grade fever with a cold and higher-grade fever with the flu)
In addition to a sore throat, the symptoms of mononucleosis include: swollen lymph nodes, severe fatigue, fever, muscles aches, general malaise, loss of appetite, rash, Strep throat, another type of pharyngitis, can also cause: difficulty in swallowing, red throat with white or gray patches, swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, unusual taste in the mouth, general malaise
In some cases, medical treatment is necessary for pharyngitis. This is especially the case if it’s caused by a bacterial infection. For such instances, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics.Penicillin is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sore throat. It’s important that you take the entire course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from returning or worsening. An entire course of these antibiotics usually lasts seven to 10 days.
Maintaining proper hygiene can prevent many cases of pharyngitis.
To prevent pharyngitis:
avoid sharing food, drinks, and eating utensils
avoid individuals who are sick
wash your hands often, especially before eating and after coughing or sneezing
use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water aren’t available
avoid smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke
You should see your doctor if:
you have had a sore throat for more than a week
you have a fever greater than 100.4F
your lymph nodes are swollen
you develop a new rash