What is pharyngitis?

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Pharyngitis involves inflammation of the throat often due to a viral or bacterial infection. The characteristic symptom is a sore throat along with cough, fever, body aches, congestion and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. The symptoms can range from minor to severe.

Even though various germs can trigger pharyngitis including bacteria and other types of viruses, pharyngitis can also result from allergies, gastric reflux and voice strain. Most cases of pharyngitis settle with treatment and some cases involving minor inflammation subside on their own. If not treated though, the infection can spread into the bloodstream and cause sepsis which is life-threatening.

Indications of pharyngitis

The symptoms of pharyngitis might arise for several weeks at a time and might even recur. The usual indications include the following:

  • Dry throat
  • Body aches
    Coughing up clear, yellowish, light brown or greenish mucus is one of the indications of pharyngitis.
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing up clear, yellowish, light brown or greenish mucus
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hoarse voice
  • Throat pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Pus or white patches on the tonsils or throat
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

What are the usual causes?

In most instances, pharyngitis is brought about by viral infections such as the flu and mononucleosis. Nevertheless, it can also be caused by a bacterial infection such as strep throat, gastric reflux or an allergic reaction.

The condition can also develop if exposed to an irritant or from an injury. The bacterial type is considered contagious. If an individual has a weakened immunity especially in cases of HIV infections, he/she is prone to infections that lead to pharyngitis.


Most cases of pharyngitis settle on their own or treated using antibiotics, topical anesthetics or analgesics. If antibiotics are taken, the recommended course must be taken to prevent recurrence.

  • Antibiotics are used to manage cases that are bacterial in nature. Take note that antibiotics are utilized mainly to prevent rare but serious complications such as rheumatic fever.
  • Analgesics are given to alleviate the pain and fever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Topical pain medications such as benzocaine can be given to reduce the pain by blocking the nerve impulses.

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