Pharyngitis is a common inflammation of the throat. It is usually caused by a cold or the flu. Both a cold and the flu are types of viral infections. Bacterial infections, such as strep throat, may also cause pharyngitis. Mononucleosis and certain childhood diseases such as croup, mumps, whooping cough, measles, and chicken pox have also been known to cause pharyngitis.
The most common symptom of pharyngitis is a sore throat. The two terms may even be used interchangeably. A sore throat may include a dry, itchy, or painful sensation in the throat. Both the tonsils and glands around the throat may swell. Individuals with pharyngitis may also have a hoarse voice. Pharyngitis may be accompanied by fever, chills, a cough, a runny nose, aching pains, nausea or vomiting.
Pharyngitis is most common during cold weather. Healthcare workers and children enrolled in day care or school often develop pharyngitis. People with allergies, frequent sinus infections, or those who have been exposed to second-hand smoke may also have higher chances of developing pharyngitis.
To diagnose pharyngitis, your doctor will examine your throat. If they suspect that your sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, they will swab your throat and run tests to see if any bacteria is present. If pharyngitis is caused by a viral infection, it can be treated at home. Taking over the counter medication, drinking plenty of water, gargling saltwater, and getting plenty of rest will help treat the viral infection. A doctor may prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection if the pharyngitis is caused by bacteria. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with pharyngitis, talk with your doctor about the most current treatment options.