10 Pharyngitis Symptoms

By keith
Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. ‘Pharyngitis (Strep Throat).' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Apr. 2019, www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-hcp/strep-throat.html
  • 2. ‘Pharyngitis.’ Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/pharyngitis
  • 3. ‘Pharyngitis - Sore Throat.’ MedlinePlus, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000655.htm
  • 4. ‘Sore Throat - Symptoms and Causes.’ Mayo Clinic, 21 July 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20351635
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Despite sounding like a serious condition, pharyngitis is very common, especially in children. Pharyngitis is the medical term referring to a sore throat that occurs with or without swallowing. It's a swelling of the pharynx, which is the back of the throat.

Pharyngitis is inflammation of the throat, and it's often associated with throat irritation and discomfort. It's caused by a variety of infections, various illnesses, trauma or overuse. Because of its location, it can seem worse than it is, so it's beneficial to have as much information about the condition as possible.


Sore Throat

The primary indicator of pharyngitis is a sore throat. The level of soreness can range from mild to severe, and intensity is not an indication of the condition. Even if a person only experiences mild soreness, they may still have pharyngitis.

Severity is not a requirement for determination of the condition. Any inflammation within the throat between the voice box and the tonsils is considered pharyngitis.3‘Pharyngitis - Sore Throat.’ MedlinePlus, medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000655.htm The duration of the condition is also not a factor, as the soreness can last for varying periods of time, depending on the underlying source of the issue.


Difficulty Swallowing

Another indication of pharyngitis is difficulty swallowing.2‘Pharyngitis.’ Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/pharyngitis If swallowing is challenging, medical advice and treatment should be sought. Anything that disrupts the ability to swallow due to inflammation of the throat is a symptom of pharyngitis.

A person may experience multiple kinds of issues with swallowing, regardless of whether it's a liquid or solid. Some people may feel an increase in pain, while others may find that it takes more effort than usual to swallow.


Throat Inflammation

Inflammation of the throat is responsible for the symptoms associated with pharyngitis. This inflammation may or may not be visible. Depending on the cause, the swelling could be hidden from view and only felt, rather than seen.

Some individuals may also feel swelling on the outside of the throat. The area could be tender to the touch or feel lumpy, and there could be noticeable internal pressure.4‘Sore Throat - Symptoms and Causes.’ Mayo Clinic, 21 July 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20351635 Stiffness or other feelings of throat restriction might be an indication of inflammation and illness.



Depending on the condition's cause, discoloration might be present. If there's a noticeable difference in tone compared to the rest of the throat, pharyngitis is likely present. Barring momentary abrasions or irritation, the color should be uniform with the rest of the throat.

Any increased redness is a sign of pharyngitis. Amplified visibility of veins or signs of blood are also infection indicators, as is the presence of white spots.4‘Sore Throat - Symptoms and Causes.’ Mayo Clinic, 21 July 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sore-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20351635 Some individuals may also notice pus and discharge.



Pharyngitis has numerous underlying causes, including viral and bacterial infections, allergies, acid reflux or tumors. Some symptoms aren't always clear indications of the condition.

Dryness might be the only symptom present in some cases, or it could be an early warning of a harsher impending illness. For this reason, an increased need for hydration or constant throat clearing are symptoms that shouldn't be ignored. A dry throat is a sign of potential infection, although dry air at home or outdoors can also be another cause.


Difficulty Speaking

Difficulty speaking is a clear warning of throat problems. The vocal cords are located near the areas affected, and infections impact their ability to operate. Vocal cord fatigue can also cause pharynx inflammation. Whether from sickness or overuse, throat problems impact speaking.

This issue presents in several ways, from changes in tone to the complete loss of the ability to speak. It can make voices hoarse, faint or deeper in tone. In many cases, vocal changes are the first sign of a problem.



When issues are present within the throat, the natural inclination is to attempt to clear it. This causes the body to feel a strong urge to cough. Even without other symptoms, a sudden onset of the need to cough suggests a pharynx issue.

Some previously mentioned symptoms also increase the feeling of needing to cough. Dryness, soreness and swelling can lead to a desire to cough. If coughing persists, an individual should contact their health care provider to rule out more serious conditions.



Because the throat stays moist, the presence of saliva or minor phlegm is not a cause for alarm on its own. However, throat irritations cause the body to react by producing more. Soreness and dryness trigger the body to attempt to increase lubrication to remedy the problem.

This is especially true in cases of bacterial infections, such as strep. Excess mucus is a primary symptom of infection as the body tries to fight the intrusion, and blood may be present within the phlegm.2‘Pharyngitis.’ Johns Hopkins Medicine, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/pharyngitis



A symptom of pharyngitis that's sometimes overlooked is fatigue. Whenever there's an issue within the body, even if it's not an infection, the body works to heal itself. This results in a decrease in overall energy.

Even though this symptom can be present regardless of the underlying causes of pharyngitis, it's markedly worse when due to infection. Because the body is fighting the introduction of a pathogen, considerable energy is required to eliminate the outside threat. This results in overall fatigue throughout the body.



When the body is working to fight off an infection, a fever may result. While it can be a side effect of the body working hard, it also occurs because the body produces heat to help fight infection and alleviate the problem.

Any infection can cause an elevated body temperature, but bacterial infections, such as strep, are more likely to cause fever.1‘Pharyngitis (Strep Throat).’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19 Apr. 2019, www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-hcp/strep-throat.html Fevers indicate that the body is fighting the microbes.


Home | Privacy Policy | Editorial | Unsubscribe | | About Us

This site offers information designed for entertainment & educational purposes only. With any health related topic discussed on this site you should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical diagnosis, treatment, advice, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, treatment, or diagnosis. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.