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Pharyngitis - often simply referred to as a sore throat - is inflammation of the pharynx, the portion of the throat that lies just beyond the back of the roof of the mouth and stretches to the Adam's apple (pharynx). It usually occurs when viruses (or sometimes bacteria) from a cold, flu, or sinus infection involve the throat.
Alternative Names of Pharyngitis are: Streptococcal Pharyngitis, Sore Throat.
Complications of Pharyngitis
Complications of viral pharyngitis are extremely uncommon.
Causes of Pharyngitis
Signs & Symptoms of Pharyngitis
Diagnosis of Pharyngitis
Usually the health care provider makes a diagnosis by examining the throat. A throat swab culture will be negative for bacterial causes of sore throat (such as group A streptococcus).
Treatments of Pharyngitis
There is no specific treatment for viral pharyngitis. You can relieve symptoms by gargling with warm salt water (one half-teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water) several times a day and taking anti-inflammatory drugs or medications, such as acetaminophen, to control fever. Excessive use of anti-inflammatory lozenges or sprays may make a sore throat worse. It is important to avoid antibiotics when a sore throat is due to a viral infection. The antibiotics will not help. Using them to treat viral infections helps strengthen bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics. In some sore throats (such as infectious mononucleosis), the lymph nodes in the neck may become extremely swollen. They may be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, such as prednisone.
Prevention of Pharyngitis
Most cases are not preventable, because the viruses and bacteria that cause sore throats are commonly found in the environment. However, always wash your hands after contact with a person who has a sore throat. Avoid kissing or sharing cups and eating utensils with sick individuals.
When to seek Medical Advice
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if symptoms last longer than expected or do not improve with self-care. Always seek medical care if you have a sore throat and have extreme discomfort or difficulty swallowing or breathing.
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