Pharyngitis is an infection of the throat that causes inflammation. This type of infection is generally spread by close contact with other individuals. The majority of pharyngitis cases occur during the winter or colder months.
Viruses are the most common cause for throat infections and do not require antibiotics. However, pharyngitis can also be caused by bacteria like streptococci (more commonly known as “strep”), fungal infections, cigarette smoke and others.
The symptoms of pharyngitis depend greatly on the cause of the infection and the person affected. For some people, the onset of symptoms may be quick; for others, symptom onset is slow. Symptoms may include:
- Sore throat
- Fever (either low- or high-grade)
- Decrease in appetite
- Not feeling well
- Stomach aches
- Painful swallowing
- Visual redness or drainage in the throat
The symptoms of pharyngitis may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your licensed health care provider 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 cause of the infection is bacterial, not viral)
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