A sore throat (known medically as 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 that is long-lasting or recurrent.
The two most common reasons for pharyngitis are an infection with either a virus (the most common) or bacteria.
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.
(Click Pharyngitis for more detailed advice on chronic and acute pharyngitis, including how a throat infection is diagnosed and treated. This article also offers tips on how to prevent spreading throat infections.)