Pharyngitis, or sore throat, is discomfort, pain, or scratchiness in the throat. It often makes it painful to swallow.
Pharyngitis is caused by swelling in the back of the throat (pharynx) between the tonsils and the (larynx).
Most sore throats are caused by colds or the flu. Coxsackie virus or mononucleosis can also cause sore throat.
Bacteria that can cause pharyngitis in some cases.
Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months. The illness often spreads among family members.
The main symptom is a sore throat.
Other symptoms may include:
Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and look at your throat.
A rapid test or throat culture to test for strep throat may be done. Other laboratory tests may be done depending on the suspected cause.
Most sore throats are caused by viruses. A few of these illnesses (such as some types of influenza) may be helped by antiviral medicines.
Antibiotics do not help viral sore throats. Using these medicines to treat viral infections helps strengthen bacteria and make them resistant to antibiotics.
Sore throats should only be treated with antibiotics if a strep test is positive. Strep cannot be accurately diagnosed by symptoms or a physical exam alone.
The following tips may help your sore throat feel better:
Complications may include:
Call your health care provider if:
Seek immediate medical care if you have a sore throat and trouble breathing.
Pharyngitis - bacterial; Sore throat
Wessels MR. Streptococcal pharyngitis. N Engl J Med. 2011;354:648-655.
Frye R, Bailey J, Blevins AE. Clinical inquiries. Which treatments provide the most relief for pharyngitis pain? J Fam Pract. 2011 May;60(5):293-4.
Shulman ST, Bisno AL, Clegg HW, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and management of group A streptococcal pharyngitis: 2012 update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2012;55(10):e86-e102.
Updated by: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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