(Pharyngitis; Tonsillopharyngitis; Throat Infection)
- Pharyngitis—swelling and inflammation of the pharynx (the back of the throat, including the back of the tongue)
- Tonsillopharyngitis—swelling and inflammation of the pharynx and the tonsils (soft tissue that makes up part of the throat's immune defenses)
|Sore Throat Due to Inflammation|
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- Infection with a virus, such as the viruses that cause influenza (the flu), herpangina, and the common cold
- Infection with bacteria, such as the bacteria that cause strep throat
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Mucus from your sinuses that drains into your throat
- Breathing polluted air
- Drinking alcoholic beverages
- Hay fever or other allergies
- Acid reflux from the stomach
- Food debris collecting in small pockets in the tonsils
- Certain immune or inflammatory disorders
- Pain or difficulty when swallowing
- Runny nose or stuffy nose
- Enlarged lymph nodes in your neck
- Hoarse voice
- Red or irritated-looking throat
- Swollen tonsils
- White patches on or near your tonsils
- Difficulty breathing
When Should I Call My Doctor?
- Experience a worsening of your sore throat or the symptom lasts longer than you or your doctor expect
- Have difficulty swallowing or breathing
Have developed other symptoms, such as:
- White patches on tonsils (may be a sign of strep throat)
- Enlarged lymph nodes on your neck
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle or joint aches
- Blood in saliva
This physical exam may include:
- Using a small instrument to look inside the nose, ears, and mouth
- Gently touching the lymph nodes (glands) in your neck to check for swelling
- Taking your temperature
The doctor will ask questions about:
- Your family and medical history
- Recent exposure to someone with strep throat or any other infection of the throat, nose, or ears
Other tests include:
- Rapid strep test or throat culture—using a cotton swab to touch the back of the throat to check for strep throat
- Blood tests—to identify some conditions that may be causing the sore throat
- Mono spot test—if mononucleosis is suspected
- Pain relievers or fever reducers
- Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.
- Antibiotics for a sore throat caused by a bacterial infection
- Throat lozenges
- Decongestants and antihistamines to relieve nasal congestion and runny nose
- Numbing throat spray for pain control in older children and adults, although the relief is very short-lived
- Corticosteroids if there is trouble breathing
- Get plenty of rest
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Try warm liquids (tea or broth), or cool liquids
- Gargle with warm saline several times a day
- Avoid irritants that might affect your throat, such as tobacco smoke and cold air
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Wash your hands frequently. Do this especially after blowing your nose or after caring for a child with a sore throat.
- If someone in your home has a sore throat, keep their eating utensils and drinking glasses separate from those of other family members. Wash these objects in hot, soapy water.
- If a toddler with a sore throat has been sucking on toys, wash the toys in soap and water.
- Immediately get rid of used tissues, and then wash your hands.
- If you have hay fever or another respiratory allergy, see your doctor. Avoid the substance that causes your allergy.
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics http://www.healthychildren.org
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases http://www.niaid.nih.gov
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology http://www.entcanada.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Brink AJ, Cotton MF, et al. Guideline for the management of upper respiratory tract infections. S Afr Med J. 2004;94:475-483.
Choby BA. Diagnosis and treatment of streptococcal pharyngitis. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79(5):383-390.
Pharyngitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 25, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Sore throat. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/sore-throat.html. Updated May 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Sore throat. Patient UK website. Available at: http://www.patient.co.uk/health/sore-throat-leaflet. Accessed November 20, 2013. Accessed September 29, 2014
The difference between a sore throat, strep and tonsillitis. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/The-Difference-Between-a-Sore-Throat-Strep-and-Tonsillitis.aspx. Updated May 28, 2014. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Throat problems. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/health-tools/search-by-symptom/throat-problems.html. Accessed September 29, 2014.
Vincent MT, Celestin N, et al. Pharyngitis. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(6):1465-1470.
11/10/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Hayward G, Thompson M, Heneghan C, Perera R, Del Mar C, Glasziou P. Corticosteroids for pain relief in sore throat: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2009;339.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 09/2014 -
- Update Date: 09/30/2014 -