What is pharyngitis?

Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the throat (also known as the pharynx) often caused by a bacterial or viral infection. The main symptom is a sore throat; other symptoms may include fever, cough, congestion, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Theses symptoms can range from mild to severe.

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While many germs can cause pharyngitis, including bacteria (such as group A Streptococcus, which causes strep throat) and many types of viruses, pharyngitis can also result from allergies, voice strain, and gastric reflux, a condition in which stomach acids flow up into the throat.

Most episodes of pharyngitis resolve with treatment, and some minor inflammations even go away on their own. However, left untreated, infection can enter the bloodstream and cause sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms such as choking or severe difficulty breathing, which may be combined with pale or blue lips and fast heart rate (tachycardia), high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), sudden swelling of the tongue or throat structures, change in level of consciousness or alertness, or a change in mental status or sudden behavior change (confusion, delirium, lethargy, hallucinations and delusions).

Seek prompt medical care

if you can see white patches at the back of your mouth, if you have a persistent or mucus-producing cough with sore throat, if you have white patches on your tongue or in your mouth that will not go away, or if you are being treated for pharyngitis but mild symptoms recur or are persistent.


What are the symptoms of pharyngitis?

You may experience pharyngitis symptoms for several weeks at a time, and symptoms can recur.

Common symptoms of pharyngitis

You may or may not experience all of these symptoms, depending on the cause or extent of the infection. At times, any of these symptoms can become severe. Common symptoms of pharyngitis include:


What causes pharyngitis?

In most cases, pharyngitis is caused by viral infections, such as influenza (flu) and mononucleosis. However, it can also be the result of a bacterial infection such as strep throat, an allergic reaction, or gastric reflux. Pharyngitis can also develop from an environmental irritant or injury. Bacterial and viral pharyngitis are usually contagious. If you have lowered immunity, as in the case o... Read more about pharyngitiscauses


How is pharyngitis treated?

Fortunately, most cases of pharyngitis go away on their own or are treatable with antibiotics, analgesics, or topical anesthetics. When taking antibiotics, it is important to follow your treatment plan precisely and to take all medications as instructed to avoid reinfection and recurrence.

Antibiotics used to treat... Read more about pharyngitistreatments

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 8, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Ear, Nose and Throat

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