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Alternative Names Return to topPharyngitis - bacterial
Definition Return to top
Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx, which is in the back of the throat, between the tonsils and the voicebox (larynx).
Causes Return to top
Many germs can cause pharyngitis.
Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months. The illness often spreads among family members.
Symptoms Return to top
The main symptom is a sore throat.
Other symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests Return to top
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.
Treatment Return to top
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:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Most cases of pharyngitis go away on their own without complications.
Possible Complications Return to top
Complications of pharyngitis may include:
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider if:
Seek immediate medical care if you have a sore throat and trouble breathing.
References Return to top
Hayden GF, Turner RB. Acute pharyngitis. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 378.
Jenson HB. Epstein-Barr virus. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 251.
Del Mar CB, Glasziou PP, Spinks A. Antibiotics for sore throat. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008:(3):CD000023.
Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Health careguideline:Diagnosis and treatment of respiratory illness in children and adults. Jan 2008. Accessed Nov. 9, 2008.Update Date: 3/14/2009 Updated by: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.