Sore Throat

Pharyngitis is an inflammatory infection of the throat. This type of infection usually spreads through close contact with other people. The majority of pharyngitis cases occur in winter or in the colder months.

Viruses are the most common cause of sore throats and do not require antibiotics. However, pharyngitis can also be caused by bacteria such as streptococci (better known as "strep"), fungal infections, cigarette smoke, and other factors.


The symptoms of pharyngitis depend greatly on the cause of the infection and the person affected. In some people, the symptoms appear quickly, in others, only slowly. Symptoms can include:

  • Sore throat

  • Fever (low- or high-grade)

  • Headache

  • Decrease in appetite

  • Not feeling well

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Stomach aches

  • Painful swallowing

  • Visual redness or drainage in the throat

Symptoms of pharyngitis can be similar to those of other conditions or problems. Always ask your licensed physician for a diagnosis. If a sore throat is severe and includes difficulty swallowing, drooling, stiff neck, or neck swelling, a licensed health care provider should be consulted immediately.


Specific treatment for pharyngitis will be determined by your licensed health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health and medical history

  • Extent of the condition

  • Cause of the condition

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the condition

  • Your opinion or preference

If bacteria are not the cause of the infection, the treatment is usually more for comfort. Antibiotics will not help treat viral sore throats. Treatment may include:

  • Acetaminophen (for pain)

  • Increased fluid intake

  • Throat lozenges

  • Antibiotics (if the infection is bacterial rather than viral)

Visit with a Virtual Care health care provider online for help with your symptoms.