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Pharyngitis: causes, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The inflammation of the mucosa that lines the pharynx is what is known as pharyngitis , a very common condition that causes discomfort, pain or clearing in the throat, making it difficult, in many cases, to swallow food or liquids. A differentiation can be made between acute pharyngitis, which is caused by viruses or bacteria and the most common form, and chronic pharyngitis, which is suffered for a long time and is due to certain external irritants or harmful substances. To understand the causes, symptoms and treatment of pharyngitis , at FastlyHealwe have prepared this guide with all the necessary information.

Causes of pharyngitis

The throat is a disease that can result from various causes, and based on the trigger factor or factors can distinguish between acute pharyngitis and chronic pharyngitis.

  • Acute pharyngitis

Acute pharyngitis is caused by infectious processes caused by viruses or bacteria, so they can be highly contagious. Between 80 and 90% of cases, viruses are the main responsible for this condition, being those that cause the common cold or flu and the most frequent. Likewise, pharyngitis is also a symptom of other viral infections such as infectious mononucleosis, herpangina (presence of ulcers and sores inside the mouth), hand, foot and mouth disease or herpes.

As for bacteria, there are group A streptococci that cause streptococcal tonsillitis and others such as gonorrhea or chlamydia that are much less common. These do not usually cause acute pharyngitis by themselves, but due to the presence of bacteria these bacteria can lead to acute inflammation of the pharynx.

  • Chronic pharyngitis

Chronic pharyngitis, that is, one in which the infection remains for several weeks or for a long time, is caused by continuous contact with those substances or conditions that can irritate the pharyngeal mucosa. These can be environmental dryness, excessive heat or cold, allergens or irritants such as tobacco, dust, smoke, alcohol, etc. It can also be caused by improper mouth breathing or hormonal disorders.

Symptoms of pharyngitis

The main symptom of pharyngitis is a sore throat, but depending on the causes, one symptom or another may occur.

When suffering from acute pharyngitis , symptoms such as:

  • Throat sore or itchy, which may be worse when you speak or swallow food.
  • Redness of the pharynx.
  • Plates of whitish exudate on the tonsils or pharynx.
  • Difficulty swallowing normally.
  • Dry throat
  • Swollen neck lymph nodes.
  • Hoarsely.
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache.
  • General discomfort.

In the case of chronic pharyngitis , a throbbing sore throat is experienced in addition to other symptoms such as:

  • Generalized feeling of dryness.
  • Continuous throat clearing.
  • Sensation of the presence of something strange in the throat.
  • Irritating cough
  • Coughing up slimy mucus.
  • As a result of dryness and mucus, sleep disturbances and a feeling of suffocation may occur.

Treatment of acute pharyngitis

Likewise, the treatment of pharyngitis will depend on each particular case. In most cases, acute pharyngitis is caused by viruses, so antibiotics will not be prescribed, but analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as mucolytics, if necessary, to decrease the viscosity of the pharyngeal mucus and / or antipyretics to lower fever. All drugs must be duly prescribed by the doctor and their indications regarding the dose and duration of treatment must be followed.

An antibiotic treatment will only be prescribed when there is a bacterial infection, a very complicated viral infection or a complication of some type of pharyngo-tonsillar condition. Antibiotics belonging to the penicillin family are usually prescribed.

In addition to medical treatments, the following recommendations can help reduce throat discomfort and improve the patient’s well-being:

  • Maintain good hydration by drinking plenty of water and soft liquids. Warm liquids are recommended, such as a lemon infusion with honey, thyme or sage; or cold liquids to reduce inflammation.
  • Gargle with warm salt water two or three times a day. It will be enough to add a half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water.
  • To take a break.
  • Use humidifiers or vaporizers in the environment to maintain the humidity of the place and avoid a dry throat.
  • Suck on lozenges or hard candy (sold in pharmacies) to relieve a sore throat.

If after several days and after treatment the symptoms do not subside, it is important to consult a doctor, as well as if there is a high fever, swollen lymph nodes in the neck or some type of skin rash or skin lesions.

Treatment of chronic pharyngitis

The treatment of chronic pharyngitis should focus on avoiding those irritants or conditions that lead to sore throats and inflammation. That is why it can be recommended, for example, not to frequent very dry environments, with smoke, dust, air conditioners or very high heating. If the causes are smoking or alcoholism, it will be essential for the patient to start a specific treatment or therapy to get rid of these bad habits.

To minimize the symptoms of chronic pharyngitis, all treatments that help keep the pharynx and airways clear are good options. These can range from saline solutions, antimucolytics or lozenges to the use of humidifiers. Only when prolonged pharyngitis is the result of a nasal obstruction, surgery might be necessary to eliminate the problem.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Pharyngitis: causes, symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Ear, Nose and Throat category .

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