PHARYNGITIS - Watsons Health

PHARYNGITIS

Pharyngitis is defined as an infection or irritation of the pharynx or tonsils.  It is usually caused by bacteria or viruses.  Other causes include allergy, trauma, toxins, trauma, and neoplasia.  

The symptoms that accompany pharyngitis vary depending on the underlying condition.

In addition to a sore, dry, or scratchy throat, a cold or flu may cause:

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • cough
  • fatigue
  • body aches
  • chills
  • fever (a low-grade fever with a cold and higher-grade fever with the flu)

Strep throat, another type of pharyngitis, can also cause:

  • difficulty in swallowing
  • red throat with white or gray patches
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • fever
  • chills
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • unusual taste in the mouth
  • general malaise

DIAGNOSIS

Physical Exam. If you’re experiencing symptoms of pharyngitis, your doctor will look at your throat. They’ll check for any white or grey patches, swelling, and redness. Your doctor may also look in your ears and nose. To check for swollen lymph nodes, they will feel the sides of your neck.

Throat Culture. This test will tell your doctor within a few minutes if the test is positive for streptococcus. In some cases, the swab is sent to a lab for further testing and results are not available for at least 24 hours.

Blood Tests. This test can determine whether you have mononucleosis. A complete blood count (CBC) test may be done to determine if you have another type of infection.

 

TREATMENT

Home Care

If a virus is causing your pharyngitis, home care can help relieve symptoms. Home care includes:

  • drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • eating warm broth
  • gargling with warm salt water (1 tsp. salt per 8 oz. water)
  • using a humidifier
  • resting until you feel better

For pain and fever relief, consider taking over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Throat lozenges may also be helpful in soothing a painful, scratchy throat.

Alternative remedies are sometimes used to treat pharyngitis. However, you should contact your doctor before using them to avoid drug interactions or other health complications. Some of the most commonly used herbs include:

  • honeysuckle
  • licorice
  • marshmallow root
  • sage
  • slippery elm

Medical Treatment

In some cases, medical treatment is necessary for pharyngitis. This is especially the case if it’s caused by a bacterial infection. For such instances, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. According to the Mayo Clinic, penicillin is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sore throat. It’s important that you take the entire course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from returning or worsening. An entire course of these antibiotics usually lasts seven to 10 days.

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