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With pharyngitis a virus or bacterium irritates your throat or pharynx. Both viral and bacterial forms of pharyngitis can make your throat sore and make swallowing difficult. If you have a severe case you may find it hard to breathe. Most cases of acute pharyngitis last a few days with treatment. If you smoke face regular exposure to environmental irritants or have a continuing infection in your sinuses lungs or mouth you may develop chronic pharyngitis in which your symptoms will come back from time to time. The viral form of pharyngitis usually accompanies a cold flu or mononucleosis. Strep throat is the best-known example of a bacterial form of pharyngitis.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of pharyngitis include the following.
What Causes It?
Viruses or bacteria infect the pharynx—your throat—and cause it to swell. That accounts for the soreness and difficulties in swallowing. Viruses that cause pharyngitis usually come into your body with a cold the flu or a similar infection. Bacteria that cause the disease can enter the body through open wounds skin infections and common routes of sexually transmitted diseases.
What to Expect at Your Provider's Office
Your health care provider will examine your throat and take a swab from it to test whether a virus or bacteria have caused the infection. The provider may also take a blood sample to check your white blood cell count which can determine the cause of your pharyngitis.
Bacterial pharyngitis is treated with antibiotics. Viral pharyngitis is treated with rest and over-the-counter pain medicines. If you have the viral type avoid irritants such as smoke and cold air. Do not drink alcohol. Gargling several times a day with half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water reduces discomfort.
Over the Counter
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Strep infection should be treated with antibiotics. Alternative treatments can be effective in cases of acute chronic or recurrent pharyngitis.
Herbs may be used as dried extracts (capsules powders teas) glycerites (glycerine extracts) or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated teas should be made with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day.
Some of the most common remedies used for pharyngitis are listed below. Usually the dose is 12X to 30C every one to four hours until your symptoms get better.
Chiropractic treatment may be a helpful adjunct especially in children.
Acupuncture may be helpful in improving immune function.
Massage can reduce the effects of stress.
Acute pharyngitis usually goes away within a week or two. Check with your health care provider if you still have symptoms after that time.
Do not use goldenseal during pregnancy.
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Morrison R. Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms. Albany Calif: Hahnemann Clinic Publishing; 1993:5 28.