Symptoms, causes and
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.
The symptoms of pharyngitis include the following.
Pain when swallowing
In rare cases,
Inflammation of the
membrane lining your throat
An extra membrane or the
appearance of pus in your throat (can appear as white patches on tonsils or
back of throat)
Enlarged lymph nodes in
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
Bacterial pharyngitis is
treated traditionally 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. If you
want fast results try gargling with some HCL Colloidal Silver Solution to
eliminate all infection swiftly.
Over the Counter
ibuprofen—for pain and discomfort; do not give aspirin to children under 18 as
it can cause Reye's syndrome
Strep infection should be treated with antibiotics. Alternative treatments can
be effective in cases of acute, chronic, or recurrent pharyngitis.
the number one antidote for sore throats
Zinc (30 mg per day or
lozenges) boosts the immune system and relieves soreness.
Vitamin C (1,000 mg
three to four times per day) is needed, as your bowel tolerates, for proper
immune function and to strengthen mucous membranes.
100,000 IU per day) restores the integrity of mucous membranes and supports
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.
Slippery elm (Ulmus
rubra): Soothes irritated tissues and promotes healing. Use as lozenge or
glabra): Antiviral and soothing to the throat. Use as lozenge or tea. Do
not take licorice if you have high blood pressure.
Garlic/ginger tea (Allium
sativum/Zingiber officinalis): Antimicrobial and warming herbs. Use two
cloves of garlic
and two to three
slices of fresh ginger root. Simmer in 1 cup of water for 10 minutes. Drink
warm. May add lemon and honey for flavor.
Tincture of two parts
coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), two parts goldenseal (Hydrastis
canadensis), and one part propolis, should be taken every three to four
hours. Place 30 drops in 1/4 cup water. Gargle and swallow.
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.
for red, swollen throat with burning pains. Patient is thirstless and feels
better with cold drinks.
for bright red throat and tongue that feels worse on the right side;
especially if you are thirsty.
for dryness of throat;
pain begins on right side and goes to left. Pain is relieved with hot drinks.
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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Merck Research Laboratories; 1992.
Larson DE, ed. Mayo Clinic Family Health Book. 2nd ed. New York, NY:
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Lewis WH, Elvin-Lewis MPF. Medical Botany/Plants Affecting Man's Health.
New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons; 1977.
Morrison R. Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms. Albany,
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