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 of HIV infection, you may be more susceptible to infections that lead to pharyngitis.

What are the risk factors for pharyngitis?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing pharyngitis. Not all people with risk factors will get pharyngitis. Risk factors for pharyngitis include:

  • Advanced or very young age
  • Closed-in work or living spaces
  • Exposure to chemical irritants
  • Exposure to highly populous areas
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Lowered immunity

Reducing your risk of pharyngitis

You can lower your risk for developing or transmitting pharyngitis to others by:

  • Avoiding contact with tobacco and chemical irritants
  • Avoiding sharing food and eating utensils, cups, and glasses
  • Treating any allergies conscientiously
  • Using sanitizing agents on shared surfaces
  • Ventilating work and living spaces as much as possible
  • Washing your hands frequently

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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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:


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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