What Is Acute Pharyngitis?

By james
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Most of us have been there: you try to swallow but its difficult to do so because your throat is too sore. The severity of the pain can range from being mild, to being severe enough that the patient is in agony. Thankfully, however, a sore throat will usually pass without having done any permanent damage to the patient.

The technical medical term for the condition is pharyngitis, and there is a number of potential causes. These causes can also cause some other unwelcome symptoms and the patient can be quite ill in a number of cases. It is not usually necessary to see a doctor, but do so if the symptoms are too severe.

1. The Pharynx

The pharynx is the name given to the part of the body where the larynx (voice box) and esophagus (the tube that goes to the stomach) join with the oral cavities and the nasal cavities. Most people will refer to this part of the body simply as “the throat.” The pharynx allows passage of air to the lungs, making it part of the respiratory system. As it also allows passage of food to the stomach, it is an important part of the digestive system. It is made of soft, delicate tissue, and is also prone to pathogens because of its location in the body.

Acute Pharyngitis

2. Pharyngitis

As mentioned, the pharynx is prone to problems caused by pathogens, among other things. Pathogens that are passing through the passage will often come into contact with the pharynx and, if they settle here, an infection might develop. This can cause the tissues of the pharynx to become inflamed.

Inflammation of these tissues can be quite painful, while it can also cause a dry, “scratchy” sensation in some people. These symptoms amount to what most people will refer to as a “sore throat.” It is a very common condition and, in the majority of cases, it is fairly easy to treat.

3. Causes

There is a number of potential causes of pharyngitis, mostly involved bacterial or viral infections. The most common cause is viral infections, and these include common illnesses such as influenza (the flu), the common cold, and mononucleosis (mono).

Bacterial infections causing pharyngitis include the measles, croup, chicken pox, and whooping cough. Other causes include irritation of the skin caused by environmental factors. people who work in areas that have poor air quality are prone to developing an inflamed pharynx, and people who smoke, or spend time around other smokers, are also at risk. Using protective masks is sometimes recommended to help prevent pharyngitis.

Acute Pharyngitis

4. Prevalence

As mentioned, pharyngitis is one of the most common of all ailments. In the United States, it is among the most common reasons for somebody making an appointment with their doctor, and it is also among the most common causes of lost manhours.

What’s more is that sore throats are more likely to occur during the colder months as the cold air affects the soft tissues, and the patients immune system is affected. It is also more likely to occur in people who are feeling run down or stressed as the immune system will not be as effective at protecting the body as usual.

5. Headache

If you have a sore throat, there is also a chance that you will develop a headache as well. Not everybody will develop a headache and, for those that do, the severity of the symptom will vary. If the headache is too painful to bear, some paracetamol should be able to at least help take the edge off.

For more severe headaches, you can consider stronger painkillers, but make sure that you are careful. This is especially the case if the painkillers you are using might cause an addiction. If the headache is particularly painful then you should arrange to speak with a medical professional.

Acute Pharyngitis

6. Runny Nose

Acute pharyngitis is usually caused by illnesses that will also cause some other symptoms. Among the most common are the common cold and the flu, and both of these are likely to cause the patient to have a runny nose. As such, a runny nose will often go hand in hand with a sore throat.

These illnesses can also cause inflammation of the tissues of the nasal passage, and this can lead to the passage becoming partially blocked. This is what people will generally feel as a stuffy nose. Depending on the underlying cause, patients with a sore throat will also sometimes be sneezing a lot.

7. Cough

Depending on the underlying cause, somebody that has a sore throat is also likely to have a cough. This is simply because both symptoms are likely to be found together in a number of diseases. Unfortunately, a cough is often one of the last things the patient wants when their sore throat is already giving them considerable pain.

There are different types of cough, each of which is more or less likely to make a patients sore throat worse. In some instances, a sore throat might even have been caused by a patients cough. Coughing is also one of the most common ways that certain disease will be spread to other people.

Acute Pharyngitis

8. Swollen Lymph Nodes

Our immune systems use a number of ways to keep us safe. One of these is a number of small glands in the body that help to filter pathogens out of the blood. These are called lymph nodes and they are found in several places, including in our neck.

When these glands have a lot of work to do, they are prone to becoming swollen due to the extra workload. These glands will also often swell to the point where the throat itself will become visibly swollen. The swelling in itself is harmless, but it does suggest that the patient should be found medical assistance.

9. Fever

Our bodies do not like it when pathogens are present in the body. Some can be very dangerous to us so it is no wonder that our bodies react to them, and they will react no matter how mild the symptoms they might cause. In fact, if they did not react at all, then the symptoms would be far worse than they are.

The reason we get fevers is because our immune system heats up our bodies to help make them an inhospitable place for pathogens. Where there are fevers, there are also usually chills, and this is because both symptoms are a part of the same mechanism.

10. Treatment

As mentioned, treating pharyngitis is fairly straightforward. Standard antibiotics are usually all that’s needed to do the job, and it will often clear itself up in a few days anyway. In addition to treating the cause, you can also treat the symptoms, and lozenges and other remedies are effective at this.

While a sore throat in itself is not usually something to be concerned about, you should consider speaking with a doctor if the pain is too severe, or if it persists for too long. In a small number of cases, it will be a symptom of something more serious that needs to be addressed.

Acute Pharyngitis

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