Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Pharyngitis Overview

What is pharyngitis?
A person with pharyngitis has inflammation of the throat. In most cases, pharyngitis is caused by a viral infection or a bacterial infection. The most common viral cause of pharyngitis is an upper respiratory infection. The most common bacterial cause of pharyngitis is streptococcal tonsillitis. Less commonly, pharyngitis can be caused by a fungal infection (Candida), when it is referred to as thrush.

What are the symptoms of pharyngitis?
Symptoms of pharyngitis include a sore throat, red throat, throat swelling, white patches on the throat, and pus on the tonsils. Additional symptoms of pharyngitis include difficulty swallowing, fatigue, fever, and swollen lymph glands in the neck.

How does the doctor treat pharyngitis?
Treatment for pharyngitis includes rest, plenty of fluids, antibiotics, nonprescription sore throat medicine, warm saltwater gargles, and acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain and fever.

Continue to Pharyngitis Risk Factors

Last Updated: Nov 2, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Pharyngitis References
  1. Cooper RJ, Hoffman JR, Bartlett JG, Besser RE, Gonzales R, Hickner JM, Sande MA; American Academy of Family Physicians; American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine; Centers for Disease Control. Principles of appropriate antibiotic use for acute pharyngitis in adults: background. Ann Intern Med. 2001 Mar 20;134(6):509-17. [11255530]
  2. Huovinen P. Causes, diagnosis and treatment of pharyngitis. Compr Ther. 1999 Jun-Jul;25(6-7):326-9. [10470516]
  3. Linder JA, Stafford RS. Antibiotic treatment of adults with sore throat by community primary care physicians: a national survey, 1989-1999. JAMA. 2001 Sep 12;286(10):1181-6. [11559262]
  4. Zwart S, Sachs AP, Ruijs GJ, Gubbels JW, Hoes AW, de Melker RA. Penicillin for acute sore throat: randomised double blind trial of seven days versus three days treatment or placebo in adults. BMJ. 2000 Jan 15;320(7228):150-4. [10634735]
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