Pharyngitis is the inflammation of the pharynx, which is the part of the throat behind the mouth and nasal cavity. Pharyngitis is mostly caused by bacteria or viruses which are commonly found in our environment. Pharyngitis can also result from other noninfectious conditions.
The common bacterial group that causes pharyngitis is Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS) which is responsible for many cases of acute pharyngitis. Other bacterial groups like Group B and C streptococci, Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae, Chlamydia pneumoniae, among others also cause pharyngitis. Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci invade the pharyngeal mucosa and enter into the pharynx and cause the infection.
There are numerous viruses, like rhinovirus, which can also cause irritation secondary to nasal secretions (congested or runny nose). In most cases of pharyngitis, there is a local invasion of the mucosa which causes excess secretions and inflammation of the pharynx.
Some of the complications of bacterial pharyngitis are:
- Infection in the middle ear which is called otitis media
- Infection of the bony air cells in the mastoid bone called mastoiditis
- Acute rheumatic fever
- Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
Most cases of pharyngitis are viral. In this case, supportive care is recommended. Humidification, throat lozenges, saltwater gargles and rest are first-line therapy.
Antibiotic treatment is reserved for patients with bacterial pharyngitis. Antibiotics only shorten the duration and the severity of the symptoms of strep. Antibiotics can also help prevent acute rheumatic fever, which may occur if the patient remains untreated for long. Typically, strep cases with pharyngitis are diagnosed through a positive culture or a rapid antigen detection test.
An oral penicillin course for 10 days is typically recommended to make sure the bacterial infection has been eradicated from the body.
If the patient is hypersensitive to penicillin, then cephalosporins, macrolides, or clindamycin may be used instead.
Sometimes, resistance is shown against azithromycin and clarithromycin and that is why these drugs are not used as the first line of choice in antibiotic therapy. Pharyngitis due to strep bacteria remains no longer infectious after 24 hours of antibiotics.
Even if the patient is taking an antibiotic there are other things that he should do to accelerate healing. Drinking plenty of warm fluids, doing salt-water gargles, and resting helps. In case of fever, antipyretics like acetaminophen are used. Analgesics or anti-inflammatories such as ibuprofen can be used if the pain is troublesome. Taking soft food is preferred for at least the first few days. All these along with antibiotic therapy can help the patient heal faster.
In case of urgent medical care assistance, AfterOurs Urgent Care offers immediate telemedicine services, where medical providers are available to offer assistance. Anyone who experiences signs and symptoms requiring urgent medical attention can simply book their appointment with AfterOurs Urgent Care to directly talk to an expert. If your medical issue is not appropriate for telemedicine, we will let you know and refer you to an in-person facility.
When to visit a doctor:
If you have a sore throat and fever, that you think needs immediate medical assistance, it is best to consult with a medical professional.
Treatment for pharyngitis is available at AfterOurs Urgent Care.
For more information regarding pharyngitis, see the following website: