Definition of Pharyngitis

Word Pharyngitis is a combination of two words with first word Pharynx meaning throat and other Itis meaning inflammation. Pharyngitis is a disease that causes inflammation of throat. Being one of the common causes of sore throat it can be very painful. Pharyngitis related inflammation can be of two types i.e.

  • Acute

  • Chronic

Pharyngitis can also cause tonsillitis that causes trouble in swallowing and breathing. If caused by systemic infection it is often accompanied with cough and fever.


Cause of Pharyngitis

The main cause for pharyngitis is close contact of an uninfected person with an infected person. Causes of pharyngitis are classified into two types that are as follows.


Infectious causes of pharyngitis are as follows.

  • Viral: 40 to 80% cases of pharyngitis are related to various types of viral infections. Adenovirus, Orthomyxoviridae, Epstein-Barr virus, Herpes simplex virus are some of the examples.

  • Bacterial: Wide range of bacteria also responsible for infecting the throat. Common examples of such bacteria include Streptococcus pneumoniae, Bacillus anthracis, Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

  • Fungal: Fungus also responsible for pharyngitis. Common example include Candida albicans that causes oral thrush and pharyngitis.

Non Infectious:

Pharyngitis can also be due to noninfectious causes that are as follows.

  • The causes of pharyngitis can be mechanical, chemical or thermal irritation. For example cold air and acid reflux.

  • Medication can also cause pharyngitis. Common examples are Pramipexole and Antipsychotics.

Signs and Symptoms of Pharyngitis

There are several symptoms for pharyngitis that are as follows.

  • Inflamed tonsils

  • Enlarge tender glands in neck

  • Painful feeling at back of neck

  • Problem upon swallowing

  • High fever

  • Pain in muscles

  • Headache

  • Cough

  • Influenza

  • Appetite loss

  • Liver inflammation

Risk Factors for Pharyngitis

Factors that can put someone at risk for developing pharyngitis are as follows.

  • Cold, flu and winter season is the common risk factor for pharyngitis.

  • Contact of an uninfected person with someone who is suffering with pharyngitis puts them at risk for developing pharyngitis too.

  • One of the risk factors includes smoking or exposure to secondhand smoking.

  • If someone suffers from sinus infections more often then he has the risk for developing pharyngitis.

  • Allergies are also one of the risk factors.

Diagnosis of Pharyngitis

Common diagnostic approach by doctor includes temperature checking, examination of throat, sinuses, ear, nose, lungs and neck. Differentiation of viral or bacterial cause for pharyngitis is hard to make based on symptoms alone. To rule out bacterial cause a rapid strep test is done by taking a swab from throat. Blood test is carried out to check for Mononucleosis.

Prevention from Pharyngitis

Some of the preventive measures to avoid being infected with pharyngitis are as follows.

  • Avoid kissing, sharing utensils with people who are suffering with sore throat, cold, flu, or bacterial infections.

  • Avoid smoking and also do not keep company of smokers.

  • Use a humidifier in case of dry air in home.

Treatment of Pharyngitis

The treatment for pharyngitis is normally symptomatic. Medications are effective for bacterial, fungal and viral infections. Some of the medications are as follows.

  • To reduce pain of sore throat Analgesics are helpful.

  • Steroids like Dexamethasone are helpful for severe types of pharyngitis.

  • Lidocaine is useful to relieve the pain by numbing mucus membrane.

  • Antibiotics against bacterial infections are useful whereas for viral infections they are useless.