Locations Main Campus: Chesterfield, MO 63017   |   Locations
314-434-1500 314-434-1500   |   Contact Us

Multimedia Encyclopedia


 
E-mail Form
Email Results

 
 
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks
bookmarks-menu

Pharyngitis - viral

 

Pharyngitis, or sore throat, is swelling, discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat at and just below the tonsils.

Causes

Pharyngitis may occur as part of a viral infection that also involves other organs, such as the lungs or bowel.

Most sore throats are caused by viruses.

Symptoms

 

Symptoms of pharyngitis may include:

  • Discomfort when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Joint pain or muscle aches
  • Sore throat
  • Tender swollen lymph nodes in the neck

 

Exams and Tests

 

Your health care provider usually diagnoses pharyngitis by examining your throat. A lab test of fluid from your throat will show that bacteria (such as group A Streptococcus, or strep) is not the cause of your sore throat.

 

Treatment

 

There is no specific treatment for viral pharyngitis. You can relieve symptoms by gargling with warm salt water several times a day (use one half teaspoon or 3 grams of salt in a glass of warm water). Taking anti-inflammatory medicine, such as acetaminophen, can control fever. Excessive use of anti-inflammatory lozenges or sprays may make a sore throat worse.

It is important NOT to take antibiotics when a sore throat is due to a viral infection. The antibiotics will not help. Using them to treat viral infections helps bacteria become resistant to antibiotics.

With some sore throats (such as those caused by infectious mononucleosis), the lymph nodes in the neck may become very swollen. Your provider may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, such as prednisone, to treat them.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

Symptoms usually go away within a week to 10 days.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications of viral pharyngitis are extremely uncommon.

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Make an appointment with your 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.

 

Prevention

 

Most sore throats cannot be prevented because the germs that cause them are in our environment. However, always wash your hands after contact with a person who has a sore throat. Also avoid kissing or sharing cups and eating utensils with people who are sick.

 

 

References

Melio FR, Berge LR. Upper respiratory tract infections. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 75.

Nussenbaum B, Bradford CR. Pharyngitis in adults. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LV, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 9.

Weber R. Pharyngitis. Prim Care. 2014;41(1):91-98. PMID: 24439883 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24439883.

 
  • Oropharynx

    Oropharynx - illustration

    Food passes from the mouth to the oropharynx (back of the throat) to the esophagus.

    Oropharynx

    illustration

    • Oropharynx

      Oropharynx - illustration

      Food passes from the mouth to the oropharynx (back of the throat) to the esophagus.

      Oropharynx

      illustration

    A Closer Look

     

      Self Care

       

        Tests for Pharyngitis - viral

         

           

          Review Date: 1/10/2016

          Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          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.
          adam.com

           
           
           

           

           

          A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.



          Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.