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    Pharyngitis

    Pharyngitis - bacterial; Sore throat

    Pharyngitis, or sore throat, is discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat. It often makes it painful to swallow.

    Causes

    Pharyngitis is caused by swelling in the back of the throat (pharynx) between the tonsils and the (larynx).

    Most sore throats are caused by colds or the flu. Coxsackie virusor mononucleosis can also cause sore throat.

    Bacteria that can cause pharyngitis in some cases.

    • Strep throatis caused bygroup A streptococcus.
    • Less commonly, bacteria such ascorynebacterium, gonorrhea, and chlamydia can cause sore throat.

    Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months. The illness often spreads among family members.

    Symptoms

    The main symptom is a sore throat.

    Other symptoms may include:

    • Fever
    • Headache
    • Joint pain and muscle aches
    • Skin rashes
    • Swollen lymph nodes (glands) in the neck

    Exams and Tests

    Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and look at your throat.

    A rapid test or throat culture to test for strep throat may be done. Other laboratory tests may be done depending on the suspected cause.

    Treatment

    Most sore throats are caused by viruses. A few of these illnesses (such as some types of influenza) may be helped by antiviral medicines.

    Antibiotics do not help viral sore throats. Using these medicinesto treat viral infections helps strengthen bacteria and make them resistant to antibiotics.

    Sore throats should only be treated with antibiotics if a strep test is positive. Strep cannot be accurately diagnosed by symptoms or a physical exam alone.

    The following tips may help your sore throat feel better:

    • Drink warm liquids such as lemon tea or tea with honey.
    • Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water).
    • Drink cold liquids or suck on frozen fruit-flavored ice pops.
    • Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges. Young children should not be given such products because they can choke on them.
    • Use acool-mist vaporizer or humidifier can moisten and soothe a dry and painful throat.
    • Try over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen.

    Possible Complications

    Complications may include:

    • Ear infection
    • Sinusitis
    • Abscess near the tonsils

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    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

    Seek immediate medical care if you have a sore throat and trouble breathing.

    References

    Wessels MR. Streptococcal pharyngitis. N Engl J Med. 2011;354:648-655.

    Frye R, Bailey J, Blevins AE. Clinical inquiries. Which treatments provide the most relief for pharyngitis pain? J Fam Pract. 2011 May;60(5):293-4.

    Shulman ST, Bisno AL, Clegg HW, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and management of group A streptococcal pharyngitis: 2012 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2012;55(10):e86-e102.

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    • Throat anatomy

      illustration

      • Throat anatomy

        illustration

      Tests for Pharyngitis

        Review Date: 4/13/2013

        Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

        The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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