Pharyngitis is a sore throat caused by inflammation of the back of the throat. It is one of the most common reasons for visits to family physicians. Your 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. Unless you have a bacterial infection, taking antibiotics doesn't help a sore throat. In fact, most sore throats go away in a week or less.
Most sore throats are caused by viruses, although a few are due to bacterial infections. You can breathe in bacteria or a virus that are spread in the air when someone sneezes or coughs, or you can transfer the organisms to your mouth or nose by touching a surface with germs on them. Viruses that can cause sore throat include the common cold, the flu, and mononucleosis (often called "mono"). Bacteria like Group A streptococcus (commonly known as strep throat) can also cause pharyngitis.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms that accompany a sore throat can vary, depending on what the underling illness is.
Sore throat with cold
* A low fever (less than 102 °F)
* Mild headache
Sore throat with flu
* Body aches
* Fever higher than 102 °F
Sore throat with mononucleosis
* Enlarged lymph nodes in neck and armpits
* Swollen tonsils
* Loss of appetite
* Swollen spleen
* Liver inflammation
Risk factors for pharyngitis include:
* 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
* Daycare attendance
* Northern European ancestry