Jul 15, 2010
What is Pharyngitis (Sore throat)?
Pharyngitis (sore throat) is caused by inflammation of the back of the throat. It is one of the most common ENT problems. The throat may be scratchy and swallowing can be painful. Usually a sore throat is the sign of another illness, such as a cold or the flu.
How is it caused?
Viruses or Bacteria may directly invade the pharyngeal mucosa, causing a local inflammatory response.
What are the causative agents?
More sore throats are caused by viruses; most common viruses being rhinovirus and adenovirus. Commonest bacterial agent causing pharyngitis in both adults and children is Group A Streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes), and the pharyngitis occurs with much greater frequency in the pediatric population. Bacterial infections are common during the cooler months.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
The symptoms of pharyngitis vary, depending on what the underling illness is:
Sore throat with flu
• High grade fever with chills
• Fatigue & Body aches
Sore throat with cold
• Sneezing & Cough
• Low grade fever
• Mild headache
Sore throat associated with mononucleosis
• Reduced appetite
• Swollen tonsils
• Enlarged lymph nodes in neck and armpits
• Oral candidiasis (Oral thrush) seen usually in patients who are immunocompromised
• Dry air
• Allergy/postnasal drip
• Chemical injury
• Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
• Endotracheal intubation.
What are the common modes of acquiring Pharyngitis?
One can breathe in bacteria or a virus that are spread in the air when someone sneezes or coughs, or it can transfer the organisms to the mouth or nose by touching a surface with germs on them.
Others modes being:
• Cold and flu seasons
• Having close contact with someone who has a sore throat or cold
• Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
• Frequent sinus infections
How is it diagnosed?
A Complete examination includes recording the body temperature and examining the throat, sinuses, ears, nose, lungs, and neck. It also includes examining for swollen lymph nodes that may indicate strep throat. A throat swab is taken for culture and sensitivity and a rapid strep test. Complete blood test may be done to check for mononucleosis.
How is pharyngitis treated?
Most of the sore throats are due to viral infection, hence home remedies and symptomatic treatment is enough. If it is a bacterial pharyngitis then an antibiotic such as Penicillin is prescribed, in case of allergy to penicillin erythromycin is commonly prescribed. Usually treatment is targeted at the cause.
What are the home remedies?
• Drink lots of fluid. Water and warm broths are better than soft drinks
• Avoid drinking alcohol
• Gargle several times per day with half tsp. of salt in a glass of warm water
What are the precautions to be taken?
• Avoid kissing or sharing cups and eating utensils with anyone who has a sore throat, a cold, flu, mononucleosis, or bacterial infection.
• Don't smoke, and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.
• Wash your hands frequently.
• Use a humidifier if the air in your home is dry.
Even though Pharyngitis is a common problem, we either tend to neglect it or get really fuzzy about it. Hope this article will be of some help in management of pharyngitis.