Pharyngitis - Magrabi Hospitals

Magrabi Hospitals


(Causes - Symptoms - Treatment)


Pharyngitis definition

It is more commonly known as “sore throat”.

Pharyngitis causes 

It is either viral or bacterial that may also cause upper respiratory tract infection. If it is a streptococcus infection it must be treated with antibiotics. Pharyngitis usually resolves on its own unless complicated. To avoid complications early doctor appointments may save the day.


Viral: It could mimic common cold and be part of upper respiratory tract infection.

Symptoms include:

  • Runny nose.
  • Redness of the eye.
  • Irritation of the eye.
  • Cough.
  • Hoarse voice.
  • Irritation of soft palate.
  • Fatigue and malaise.
  • Fever that may reach 39 C.

Bacterial pharyngitis: It resembles the viral pharyngitis with some differences

  • Fever exceeds 39 C.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes.
  • Pain (beyond soreness) of the throat.
  • Pus may appear on the tonsils.
  • Minor cough, minimal redness of the eye, no runny nose.

When to book an appointment with your doctor immediately?

When there are one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Appearance of skin rash.
  • Neck swelling or stiff neck.
  • Diabetic (or any immunocompromising disease).

Pharyngitis diagnosis

Usually the episode of sore throat gets better without treatment, as there are not any specific treatment for sore throat caused by common cold viruses.

The questions start when strep throat is suspected?

Is it strep or not? 

As mentioned earlier a combination of symptoms usually appears if it is strep throat (fever, enlarged lymph nodes and the absence of cough).

If two or more symptoms appear a rapid test or throat culture must be done.

These tests confirm or exclude strep throat making the diagnosis, hence the treatment, clearer and more specific.

  • It is a simple throat swab for rapid exclusion of strep throat within minutes. (More rapid).
  • Or a throat culture to cover all organisms that may cause the infection and the results appear in 24-48 hours. (More accurate).

Pharyngitis treatment

Treatments range from home remedies to hospital admission, the faster the diagnosis, the lesser the complications!

  • Warm drinks and soups (honey or lemon tea, chicken soup), or cold drinks and frozen food.
  • Oral rinses and salt-water gargles.
  • Pain medication, topical anesthetic sprays.
  • Lozenges and antitussives for the cough.
  • Paracetamol for the fever.
  • Antibiotics are administered only if it is a bacterial pharyngitis. (Ex: Penicillin).
  • If within the 3-5 days of antibiotics no improvement was felt then re-visit your doctor immediately for the risk of hospitalization!
  • Some alternative therapies are offered but not recommended such as multivitamins and healthy food chains!

You can return to work within 48 hours of the start of antibiotics, if it is only viral sore throat, you can resume your daily activities as soon as you feel better.

Pharyngitis prevention

As the saying goes “prevention is better than treatment” some advices may work wonders to protect you from sore throat.

  • Hand washing with plain soap!
  • Hand gels if clean water is unavailable.
  • Always use new tissues and wash your clothes and hands properly if you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.
  • Avoid being near sick people or hand-shakes, touching your eyes or nose after greeting them.

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