Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Sore Throat Anatomy

To better understand sore throat, it helps to understand the anatomy of the throat.

The back of throat is also referred to as the pharynx. More specifically, the pharynx is the back, upper part of the throat behind the tongue. It starts at the base of the tongue and ends at the larynx.

Anatomy examples:

  • Normal pharynx in adult
  • Normal pharynx in child
  • Normal tongue

The tonsils are a pair of lymphoid tissue in the throat. They are located in the back of the mouth and to either side near the base of the tongue. The tonsils generally shrink in size over time. By puberty, the tonsils are usually about the size of an almond.

Anatomy examples:
  • Normal anatomy of pharynx
  • Normal tonsils in child

Last Updated: Nov 4, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Sore Throat 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. Del Mar CB, Glasziou PP, Spinks AB. Antibiotics for sore throat. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(2):CD000023. [15106140]
  3. McIsaac WJ, Goel V, To T, Low DE. The validity of a sore throat score in family practice. CMAJ. 2000 Oct 3;163(7):811-5. [11033707]
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