Pharyngitis (patient information)

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Pharyngitis

Overview

What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?

When to seek urgent medical care?

Diagnosis

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Pharyngitis?

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

Pharyngitis On the Web

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FDA on Pharyngitis

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Pharyngitis in the news

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Directions to Hospitals Treating Pharyngitis

Risk calculators and risk factors for Pharyngitis

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Alexandra M. Palmer; Ogheneochuko Ajari, MB.BS, MS [2]

Overview

Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx, which is in the back of the throat, between the tonsils and the voicebox (larynx).

What are the symptoms of Pharyngitis?

The main symptom is a sore throat.

Other symptoms may include:

What are the causes of Pharyngitis?

Many germs can cause pharyngitis.

Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months. The illness often spreads among family members.

Who is at highest risk?

Pharyngitis is contagious, so anyone in close proximity to someone with the illness, is at risk.

When to seek urgent medical care?

Call your health care provider if:

Diagnosis

Your health care provider will perform a physical exam and look at your throat.

Tests to rule out strep throat may be done. Additional laboratory tests may be done depending on the suspected cause.

Seek immediate medical care if you have a sore throat and trouble breathing.

Treatment options

It is important to avoid antibiotics when a sore throat is due to infection with a virus. The antibiotics will not help. Using them to treat viral infections helps strengthen bacteria to become resistant to antibiotics.

Most sore throats are soon over. In the meantime, the following remedies may help:

  • Drink warm liquids. Honey or lemon tea is a time-tested remedy.
  • Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water).
  • Drink cold liquids or suck on popsicles.
  • Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges to soothe your sore throat. This is often as effective as more expensive remedies. DO NOT use candies or lozenges in young children because of the choking risk.
  • Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to moisten and soothe a dry and painful throat.
  • Try over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen. DO NOT give aspirin to children.

Where to find medical care for Pharyngitis?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Pharyngitis

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Most cases of pharyngitis go away on their own without complications.

Possible complications

Complications of pharyngitis may include:

Sources

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000655.htm


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