What is a sore throat, or pharyngitis?
Most of us dub what is medically called pharyngitis a sore throat. A sore throat often entails more than just a “sore” throat - it may include throat itchiness, scratchiness, difficulty swallowing, or just general pain in the throat. The reason we experience this discomfort is because of swelling in the pharynx, which is the back of the throat, and the larynx, which is your voice box.
What causes pharyngitis?
Typically, a sore throat is caused by one of these culprits:
- One of many cold viruses
- Coxsackie virus
Unless your pharyngitis is caused by a bacterial infection, like strep throat, pharyngitis is a viral infection and is not treated with antibiotics.
What are the symptoms of a sore throat?
Pharyngitis often accompanies a winter-time illness like a cold or flu, so it may be one of many symptoms you are experiencing.
Additional symptoms may include:
- Fever (low or high) or chills
- Fatigue or body aches
- Swollen tonsils or lymph nodes
How do you treat pharyngitis?
Many times a sore throat caused by a virus will clear on its own after a week or so; however, you may decide to seek medical treatment to help avoid spreading this contagious illness to others.
If the sore throat is caused by a bacterial infection, like strep, it is treated with antibiotics. A physician will determine if a bacterial organism is the likely cause of your pharyngitis and may order a laboratory test to confirm it.
For the more common viral pharyngitis, treatment may include:
- Over the counter (OTC) pain medications
- Cough drops
- Warm salt water gargles
- Cool-mist vaporizers or humidifiers
- Home remedies
When should you see the doctor because of pharyngitis?
Seeking medical attention depends on the severity of your symptoms and risk factors; the more discomfort you are experiencing, the wiser it is to promptly pay your doctor a visit.
Additionally, it’s recommended that you visit the doctor if you experience any of the following:
- A sore throat lasting several days
- High fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
If you need to visit a doctor to get a sore throat looked at, our friendly staff in Austin, Dallas and Houston, TX; and Chicago, IL will help get you back to better!
*if you are having trouble breathing, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.
How can you avoid getting pharyngitis?
A sore throat is often caused by a cold virus, so follow similar preventative tactics as you would to protect yourself from this illness like:
- Avoiding close contact with ill people (no sharing cups, utensils, makeup, etc.)
- Frequent hand washing