Viral Pharyngitis

Overview

Definition

Viral pharyngitis is a sore, inflamed throat.

Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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Causes

Viral pharyngitis is may be caused by one of several viruses. It often occurs with other viral infections, such as a common cold or the flu.

Risk Factors

Viral pharyngitis is more common in children and adolescents. Other factors that may increase your chances of viral pharyngitis include:

  • Living or working in crowded places, such as daycare centers or schools
  • Poor hygeine
  • Cigarette smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Allergies
  • Lowered immunity due to:
    • Stress or fatigue
    • Recent illness
    • Chronic health conditions, such as HIV infection or AIDS
    • Chemotherapy

SymptomsandDiagnosis

Symptoms

Viral pharyngitis may cause:

  • Sore, red, swollen throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Throat ulcerations
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck and behind the ears
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most viral sore throats are diagnosed based on the symptoms and an examination of the throat. Sometimes, the throat will be swabbed to make sure that the sore throat is not caused by a bacterial strep infection.

Treatments

Treatment

There are no treatments to cure viral pharyngitis. Most cases of viral pharyngitis resolve on their own within about a week.

Treatments to relieve symptoms include:

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

Sore throat pain can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Note: Aspirin can cause serious complications in some children with certain infections. It is best to avoid aspirin or aspirin products for children with infections.

Self-Care

You can relieve symptoms by:

  • Gargling with warm salt water can help relieve a sore throat.
  • Using throat lozenges.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids. Hot drinks and soups or cold fluids can be very soothing for a sore throat.
  • Using running a cool-mist humidifier. It can help keep your nasal passages moist and reduce congestion.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of viral pharyngitis:

  • Practice good hygiene, including careful hand washing.
  • Do niot share food or beverages with other people.
  • Avoid areas where people are smoking.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.

a (Viral Sore Throat)

RESOURCES

American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery http://www.entnet.org 

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians https://www.familydoctor.org 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca 

The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca 

References

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Frye R, Bailey J, Blevins AE. Clinical inquiries. Which treatments provide the most relief for pharyngitis pain? J Fam Pract. 2011;60(5):293-294.

Murray RC, Chennupati SK. Chronic streptococcal and non-streptococcal pharyngitis. Infect Discord Drug Targets. 2012;12(4):281-285.

Pharyngitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:  http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114913/Pharyngitis . Updated August 25, 2016. Accessed August 14, 2017.

Recognizing primary HIV-1 infection. Infect Med. 1999;16(2):104-108,110.

Sore throats. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at: http://www.entnet.org/content/sore-throats. Accessed August 14, 2017.

The respiratory tract and its infections. Harv Health Lett. 2010;35(4):1-4.