Understanding Sore Throat (Pharyngitis)

Sore throat is a common term used for painful inflammation of the throat. Medically, it is known as pharyngitis or the inflammation of the pharynx. It is located at the area immediately behind the mouth and the nasal cavity and has an important function in human vocalization.

Causes of pharyngitis

Due to the location of the pharynx, it is often the first site where an infection may occur in the throat area. It is usually in the pharynx where the initial infection in the throat takes place. It is in this area where viruses and bacteria can settle in when a person inhales substances containing the microorganisms.

Most pharyngitis are caused by viruses. About 90 percent of sore throat cases are viral infections. The remaining cases of sore throats are bacteria which enter through the mouth or nose. They usually are released back into the air when one sneezes or coughs which can then infect other people.

Symptoms of pharyngitis

One of the most common symptoms of pharyngitis is a dry and scratchy throat. It can also cause pain when swallowing, talking or even breathing. Severe cases can also come with such symptoms as vomiting, headache, coughing, and sometimes fever.

Most sore throat cases are also accompanied by other symptoms that is usually brought about by the infection, like what a cold or flu does, such as body aches and a runny nose.

How pharyngitis is diagnosed?

Diagnosis for sore throat and its cause is made though a physical exam and taking a throat culture. A doctor may check the throat for redness and swelling as well as some white streaks or pus on the tonsils.

A throat culture may be taken with the doctor rubbing a sterile swab at the back of the throat in order to get a sample of the secretion and identify the cause of the infection. Some types of throat infections may require further laboratory testing.

How to prevent pharyngitis?

The best way to prevent a throat infection that leads to sore throat is by frequent hand washing. Organisms can find its way to the mouth through unwashed hands that may contain certain microorganisms that can cause sore throat.

Other ways to reduce the risk of getting sore throat is avoid sharing eating utensils such as spoons, forks, plates and even table napkins with other people. Avoiding contact with people with the flu or sore throat can also help prevent being infected.

How to prevent pharyngitis?

There are three types of treatment for sore throat or pharyngitis. One is a treatment that focuses in reducing the pains and symptoms caused by the sore throat infection.

Another treatment aims to reduce the spread the infection and speed up the healing process. Another form of treatment for pharyngitis try to block the start of an infection.


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