Viral Pharyngitis

Overview

Definition

Viral pharyngitis is a sore, inflamed throat.

Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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Causes

Viral pharyngitis is caused by a viral infection 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 hygiene
  • Cigarette smoking
  • 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. A sample of fluid at the back of the throat may be taken to make sure a bacterial infection, like strep, is not there.

Treatments

Treatment

There are no treatments to cure viral infections. Most of these infection will go away on their own within about a week.

Treatments may help to relieve symptoms until you are better. Options include:

  • Over the counter pain medication—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help with discomfort
    • 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.
  • Gargle with warm salt water can help relieve a sore throat.
  • Use throat lozenges.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Hot drinks and soups or cold fluids can be very soothing for a sore throat.
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier. It can help keep your nasal passages moist and reduce congestion.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of viral pharyngitis:

  • Wash your hands frequently. Do this especially after blowing your nose or after caring for a child with a sore throat.
  • If someone in your home has a sore throat, keep their eating utensils and drinking glasses separate from those of other family members. Wash these objects in hot, soapy water.
  • If a toddler with a sore throat has been sucking on toys, wash the toys in soap and water.
  • Immediately get rid of used tissues, and then wash your hands.
  • If you have hay fever or another respiratory allergy, create a plan to manage allergies. This should include avoiding allergens and taking medication before exposure.

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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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.