Pharyngitis Other names Acute sore throat Viral pharyngitis resulting in visible redness. Pronunciation Specialty Infectious disease Symptoms Sore throat, fever, runny nose, cough, headache, hoarse voice   Complications Sinusitis, acute otitis media  Duration 3-5 days  Causes Usually viral infection  Diagnostic method Based on symptoms, rapid antigen detection test, throat swab  Differential diagnosis Epiglottitis, thyroiditis, retropharyngeal abscess  Treatment NSAIDs, lidocaine   Frequency ~7.5% of people in any 3-month period  Pharyngitis is inflammation of the back of the throat, known as the pharynx. It typically results in a  sore throat and fever. Other symptoms may include a  runny nose, cough, headache, difficulty swallowing, swollen lymph nodes, and a hoarse voice.  Symptoms usually last 3-5 days.  Complications can include  sinusitis and acute otitis media. Pharyngitis is a type of  upper respiratory tract infection. 
Most cases are caused by a
viral infection.  Strep throat, a bacterial infection, is the cause in about 25% of children and 10% of adults. Uncommon causes include other bacteria such as  gonorrhea, fungus, irritants such as smoke, allergies, and gastroesophageal reflux disease.  Specific testing is not recommended in people who have clear symptoms of a viral infection, such as a  cold. Otherwise, a  rapid antigen detection test (RADT) or throat swab is recommended. Other conditions that can produce similar symptoms include  epiglottitis, thyroiditis, retropharyngeal abscess, and occasionally heart disease.  NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen, can be used to help with the pain. Numbing medication, such as topical  lidocaine, may also help. Strep throat is typically treated with  antibiotics, such as either penicillin or amoxicillin. If  steroids are useful in acute pharyngitis, other than possibly in severe cases, is unclear but a recent (2020) review found that when used in combination with antibiotics they moderately improved pain and the likelihood of resolution.  
About 7.5% of people have a sore throat in any 3-month period.
Two or three episodes in a year are not uncommon.  This resulted in 15 million physician visits in the United States in 2007.  Pharyngitis is the most common cause of a sore throat.  The word comes from the  Greek word pharynx meaning "throat" and the suffix -itis meaning "inflammation".  
Pharyngitis is a type of inflammation caused by an
upper respiratory tract infection. It may be classified as acute or chronic. Acute pharyngitis may be catarrhal, purulent, or ulcerative, depending on the causative agent and the immune capacity of the affected individual. Chronic pharyngitis may be catarrhal, hypertrophic, or atrophic.
Tonsillitis is a subtype of pharyngitis. If the inflammation includes both the  tonsils and other parts of the throat, it may be called pharyngotonsillitis or tonsillopharyngitis. Another subclassification is  nasopharyngitis (the common cold). 
Most cases are due to an
infectious organism acquired from close contact with an infected individual.
These comprise about 40-80% of all infectious cases and can be a feature of many different types of viral infections.
A number of different bacteria can infect the human throat. The most common is
group A streptococcus ( Streptococcus pyogenes), but others include , Streptococcus pneumoniae , Haemophilus influenzae , Bordetella pertussis , Bacillus anthracis , Corynebacterium diphtheriae , Neisseria gonorrhoeae , Chlamydophila pneumoniae and Mycoplasma pneumoniae, . Fusobacterium necrophorum 
Streptococcal pharyngitis or strep throat is caused by a
group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GAS). It is the most common bacterial cause of cases of pharyngitis (15-30%).  Common symptoms include  fever, sore throat, and large lymph nodes. It is a contagious infection, spread by close contact with an infected individual. A definitive diagnosis is made based on the results of a throat culture. Antibiotics are useful to both prevent complications (such as rheumatic fever) and speed recovery.  Fusobacterium necrophorum
is a normal inhabitant of the oropharyngeal Fusobacterium necrophorum flora and can occasionally create a peritonsillar abscess. In one out of 400 untreated cases, Lemierre's syndrome occurs.  Diphtheria
Diphtheria is a potentially life-threatening upper respiratory infection caused by , which has been largely eradicated in developed nations since the introduction of childhood Corynebacterium diphtheriae vaccination programs, but is still reported in the Third World and increasingly in some areas in Eastern Europe. Antibiotics are effective in the early stages, but recovery is generally slow. Others
A few other causes are rare, but possibly fatal, and include
parapharyngeal space infections: peritonsillar abscess ("quinsy abscess"), submandibular space infection (Ludwig's angina), and epiglottitis.   
Some cases of pharyngitis are caused by
fungal infection, such as , causing Candida albicans oral thrush. 
Pharyngitis may also be caused by mechanical, chemical, or thermal irritation, for example cold air or
acid reflux. Some medications may produce pharyngitis, such as pramipexole and antipsychotics.  
Differentiating a viral and a bacterial cause of a sore throat based on symptoms alone is difficult.
Thus, a  throat swab often is done to rule out a bacterial cause. 
Centor criteria may be used to determine the management of people with pharyngitis. Based on five clinical criteria, it indicates the probability of a streptococcal infection. 
One point is given for each of the criteria:
 Absence of a cough
Swollen and tender
cervical lymph nodes Temperature more than 38.0 °C (100.4 °F)
Tonsillar exudate or swelling
Age less than 15 (a point is subtracted if age is more than 44)
Infectious Disease Society of America recommends against empirical treatment and considers antibiotics only appropriate following positive testing. Testing is not needed in children under three, as both group A strep and  rheumatic fever are rare, except if they have a sibling with the disease. 
The majority of the time, treatment is symptomatic. Specific treatments are effective for bacterial, fungal, and
herpes simplex infections.
Pain medication, such as NSAIDs and acetaminophen (paracetamol), can help reduce the pain associated with a sore throat. Aspirin may be used in adults, but is not recommended in children due to the risk of Reye syndrome. 
Steroids (such as dexamethasone) may be useful for severe pharyngitis.  Their general use, however, is poorly supported.   Viscous
lidocaine relieves pain by numbing the mucous membranes. 
Antibiotics are useful if a bacterial infection is the cause of the sore throat.  For viral infections, antibiotics have no effect. In the United States, they are used in 25% of people before a bacterial infection has been detected.   Oral analgesic solutions, the active ingredient is usually phenol, but also less commonly benzocaine, cetylpyridinium chloride, and/or menthol. Chloraseptic and Cepacol are two examples of brands of these kinds of analgesics.
salt water is often suggested, but evidence of its usefulness is lacking.  Alternative medicines are promoted and used for the treatment of sore throats. However, they are poorly supported by evidence.  
Acute pharyngitis is the most common cause of a
sore throat and, together with cough, it is diagnosed in more than 1.9 million people a year in the United States. 
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