Commonly called the sore throat, pharyngitis is an Infection of the pharynx due to microbes. Read the article to get to know about pharyngitis in detail.
The pharynx is a thin mucosal membrane-lined cavity, which lies behind the nose and mouth, and together with them, it opens into the esophagus.
Pharyngitis can be defined as an infection or irritation of the pharynx or tonsils. The etiology is usually infectious, of which most cases are of viral origin closely followed by bacterial infections. Other less frequent causes include allergies, trauma, toxins, and certain cancers.
It is difficult to distinguish whether a particular event of pharyngitis is due to viral or bacterial infection merely based on history and physical examination. However, the causes are specific for acquiring the infections. The reasons can be any of the following.
Recent contact with a person having a throat infection.
Recent visits to healthcare places like clinics, hospitals, etc.
Sudden change in routine environment or exposure to the allergens such as pollen grain, cat hair, etc. This is typical of allergic pharyngitis.
Consumption of toxic substances, which profoundly irritates the thin mucosal lining like caustic substances, spirits, etc.
Physical trauma in the form of serious external injuries in the inner part of the mouth or throat. This includes swallowing foreign body substances like coins, stones, etc.
Suffering from chronic illnesses like respiratory disorder, throat cancer, etc.
The symptoms of pharyngitis are as follows
Fever of mild to moderate grade.
Sore throat and itching sensation in the throat.
Pain in the throat area.
Difficulty in swallowing.
Headache with pain in the eyes, sometimes associated with redness of eyes.
Stuffiness in the nose.
Cough may or may not be present. If present with expectorations, it is likely to be a bacterial infection.
Generalized body ache and weakness.
Maintaining a proper immunity level is a must to avoid getting such opportunistic infections. Besides, genetic predispositions of our body build its immunity cells based on our daily habits, including the food we eat, our stress levels, our sleep-wake cycle, exercises, and sedentary habits. With its self-adjusting mechanism, our body forms its defense line. Any sudden change or exposure to the non-routine atmosphere results in the symptoms.
Maintaining proper dietary habits. Fruits and vegetables in the daily diet provide the essential nutrients for our body to form defense cells. Avoid frequent consumption of oil and fat-containing food items.
Frequent heavy alcohol consumption must be avoided.
Avoid continuous sedentary habits. A sleep-wake cycle should be maintained. The sleep of 6 to 8 hours a day suffices bodily needs. A mild to moderate exercise of about 1 hour daily would help pump up the defense cells in the body.
If the person is a known allergic to a particular substance, then avoidance and protection from exposure to the known allergen is the best call.
Oral hygiene also plays an equally important role in acquiring such infections. Brushing and cleaning the oral cavity twice a day helps avoid most bacterial infections.
Be responsible enough not to expose other people, especially children, to your infections by sneezing and coughing in public places without covering your nose and mouth with a handkerchief.
Follow a healthy and nutritious lifestyle.
Consult the doctor on time and complete the prescribed treatment course.
Do not self-treat or ask for medications at the pharmacy counter without a doctor's consultation.
Do not wait for too long for the symptoms to subside.
Do not stop the prescribed treatment without consulting the doctor. Stopping the treatment in the middle would leave the infection unresolved, and the person may get sick again.
Viral origin pharyngitis as such has only symptomatic treatment. It is mainly because antiviral medications are not recommended for such infections. These infections usually subside by themselves within a few days.
Bacterial infections must be treated with antibiotics, which the doctor chooses. He chooses as per the requirement and suspected etiology. Taking any random antibiotic might worsen the symptoms or might not resolve the infection completely, leading to relapse. Over the years, studies have shown that because of the constant abusive use of antibiotics, the resistance among the bacteria has increased, making it difficult for us to treat the infections.
Allergic origin has to be treated with antihistamine drugs, which alleviate the allergic effect of the allergens. Antibiotics have no role in this scenario as such. Proper choice of antihistamines is also crucial because many of them are known to cause sedation, which would affect the person's day-to-day life. Hence, consultation with a proper doctor will help choose an appropriate drug treatment according to the scenario.
For a cause like toxic origin, the main aim remains to get rid of the toxin and its harmful effects and other medications as adjunctive.
In the case of cancer, oncological consultation will help reduce and resolve the symptom.
So, the bottom line is that treatment for any symptom demands attention and consultation with a qualified doctor to get terminated.
Discarding the toothbrush that was used before and using a new toothbrush.
Drinking plenty of water and fluids.
Getting adequate rest.
Take warm beverages like lemon water, broth, tea, etc.
Sucking on throat lozenges helps in soothing the throat.
Keeping the air moisturized by using a humidifier.
Very rarely rheumatic fever.
Pharyngitis or sore throat is a common yet rarely severe condition and is most commonly associated with the common cold or flu. When you experience any of the symptoms of pharyngitis, reach out to a healthcare provider to get the best treatment. Practicing good respiratory etiquette is needed to prevent the occurrence and spread of pharyngitis
Last reviewed at:
03 Feb 2022 - 4 min read
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