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Pharyngitis : Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Pharyngitis is a medical term for infection or irritation in the pharynx (throat). The pharynx is a channel that delivers air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. Generally, pharyngitis is caused by viral and bacterial infections.

Children experience this disease more often than adults. Data shows that children generally experience at least five pharyngitides a year.

Pharyngitis because the virus is more susceptible to spread if someone is with pharyngitis patients in one room with poor ventilation. While pharyngitis because bacteria can spread rapidly in the neighborhood or workplace in the transition season.

Pharyngitis diseases generally recover within 3 to 7 days. Handling can be done through self-medication at home or medication from a doctor.

Sore Throat

Causes of Pharyngitis

Most cases of pharyngitis are caused by viral and bacterial infections. The most common bacterial cause is group A. Hemolyticus beta Streptococcus bacteria. Other causes are less common due to allergies, toxins, or injuries.

In the case of pharyngitis caused by a viral or bacterial infection, the germs try to damage the lining of the throat and cause an inflammatory reaction. Especially for pharyngitis caused by group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus, in addition to causing inflammatory reactions in the throat, it can also cause an immune system disorder which results in the immune system damaging the valves of the heart and/or kidney.

Viruses or bacteria generally attack the pharynx through transmission from the air if the patient is in close contact with someone who is experiencing pharyngitis.

In addition, there are a number of factors that can increase a person's risk for pharyngitis, including:

  • Often suffer from flu or runny nose.
  • Frequent sinus infections.
  • Suffer from allergies.
  • Often exposed to cigarette smoke in a closed place (passive smoking).

Diagnosis of Pharyngitis

The doctor can suspect a patient has pharyngitis based on the symptoms he feels, supported by the results of a physical examination. On a physical examination, the doctor will see if there is swelling or redness in the patient's throat. In addition, the doctor will also check the condition of the ears and nose, and the side of the neck to see if there are enlarged glands.

To find out the cause of pharyngitis, the doctor needs to do a follow-up examination. One of them is the bacterial culture from the sample throat patient's secretion to test for the presence of Streptococcus bacteria. This sampling is done with technical swabs.

In addition to these tests, blood tests (including complete blood counts) can also be done to determine the cause of pharyngitis. If the cause is unknown, the doctor can scan with a CT scan to see a picture of the throat and neck condition in more detail.

Pharyngitis Symptoms

The main symptom of pharyngitis is the presence of coughs or colds. Pharyngitis caused by viral infection is usually characterized by symptoms of coughs or colds that appear suddenly and can be accompanied by fever.

If the infecting virus is adenovirus, then in addition to pharyngitis, an infection of the eye mucous (conjunctiva) can also occur, characterized by red, runny eyes, and sometimes itchy or uncomfortable.

Pharyngitis can also be a symptom of coxsackievirus infection. This virus causes an accomplice mouth disease or is commonly known by the Singapore flu term. In addition to pharyngitis, this disease also causes complaints of canker sores in the oral cavity and pimples filled with water in the skin on the hands and feet.

Meanwhile, in pharyngitis caused by group A beta-hemolytic, cough symptoms usually do not occur. More frequent symptoms are a runny nose, painful swallowing, and headache. Not infrequently, vomiting or the presence of enlarged lymph nodes in the neck area also occur.

If group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus infection causes immune disorders in the kidneys, pharyngitis can be accompanied by symptoms of bloody urination and nausea vomiting due to kidney function.

If group A beta-hemolytic Streptococcus infection causes immune disorders in the heart valves, pharyngitis can be accompanied by heart failure such as shortness of breath especially when on the move, enlarged abdomen, or swelling in both legs.

Treatment of Pharyngitis

Treatment of pharyngitis is based on the cause. If this condition is caused by a virus, then self-handling can be done at home to restore the condition to the body's immune system to conquer the infection. For example by:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, to relieve sore throats.
  • A lot of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Use an air humidifier in the room.
  • Eating warm broth or cold drinks.
  • Gargle with warm saltwater.
  • Take throat lozenges to relieve a sore throat.

If the cause of pharyngitis is a bacterial infection, the doctor will prescribe antibiotic drugs such as penicillin, amoxicillin, erythromycin, or azithromycin, which can destroy the bacteria. The duration of antibiotic use recommended in this case is usually 10 days. Patients need to spend antibiotics so that the infection does not recur and prevent the occurrence of more severe complications.

Pharyngitis generally can recover within 3 to 7 days. Even so, be aware that if the symptoms do not show signs of recovery within a week, a fever that reaches a temperature of more than 38 degrees Celsius for several days and does not subside even after taking the medication, sore throat does not heal even after taking painkillers, sufferers have weak immune system due to illness or drug use, difficulty swallowing until unable to eat or drink, difficulty breathing through the mouth, issuing sounds that interfere with breathing, or drooling continuously. Consultation with a doctor is very necessary because it is feared that it is a symptom of other more severe conditions.

Pharyngitis Complications

Complications that can be caused by pharyngitis are:

  • Rheumatic fever can interfere with the heart valve.
  • Kidney disorders or glomerulonephritis.
  • Abscesses on tonsils or other tissues in the throat.

Prevention of Pharyngitis

Some pharyngitis precautions that can be taken, including:

  • Avoid close contact with pharyngitis patients
  • Use a mask if you have to be close to pharyngitis patients
  • Wash hands with running water and soap every time you eat and every time your hands come into contact with your nose



1. Drugs (2017). Sore Throat (Pharyngitis).

2. Martin, JM. (2015). The Mysteries of Streptococcal Pharyngitis. Current Treatment Options in Pediatrics.

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