Pharyngitis is the medical term for a sore throat
. It is a frequent symptom of the common cold
or other upper respiratory infections. This condition often makes it painful to swallow. It can also make the throat feel dry and scratchy.
Pharyngitis is one of the most common reasons that people go to their healthcare provider. Acute pharyngitis
is a sore throat that has lasted for a brief period of time. Chronic pharyngitis is the diagnosis for a sore throat is long-lasting or recurrent.
The two most common reasons for pharyngitis are an infection with either a virus (the most common) or bacteria. Strep throat
is the most common bacterial cause of pharyngitis. It is caused by group A streptococcus (GAS, Streptococcus pyogenes
). Up to 30 percent of children and 10 percent of adults who seek medical treatment for pharyngitis are diagnosed with strep throat.
- A fever above 101ºF (38.3ºC)
- Red and enlarged tonsils
- Tender or swollen lymph glands in the neck
- No signs of a viral infection (such as a cough, runny nose, or irritation of the eyes).
Viruses are thought to cause more than 50 percent of throat infections. The most common viruses to cause pharyngitis are the same ones that cause upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold
or flu. This is why it is common for a person with pharyngitis to also have a cough, runny nose, nasal congestion, hoarseness, and/or redness or irritation of the eyes (pink eye
Other, less-common viral causes of pharyngitis include Epstein-Barr virus (the cause of mononucleosis
) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV
There are other reasons someone may get pharyngitis. A few of these include:
- Dry air
- Irritants, including tobacco smoke.