Dealing with painful sore throat

poster 2xThroat problems

Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx, which is in the back of the throat, between the tonsils and the larynx (voice box)

Sore throat causes

  • Many germs can cause pharyngitis
  • Viruses are the most common cause of pharyngitis
  • Many different viruses can cause pharyngitis
  • Bacteria that can cause pharyngitis include Group A streptococcus, which leads to strep throat in some cases
  • Other, less-common bacteria that cause sore throats include:
  • Corynebacterium
  • Arcanobacterium
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Chlamydia pneumonia
  • The illness often spreads among family members
  • Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months

Sore throat symptoms

  • The main symptom is a sore throat
  • Other symptoms may include:
  1. Fever
  2. Headache
  3. Joint pain and muscle aches
  4. Skin rashes
  5. Swollen lymph glands in the neck

Strep throat

  • Your doctor will perform a physical exam and look at your throat
  • A rapid test or throat culture to rule out strep throat may be done
  • Additional laboratory tests may be done depending on the suspected cause

Sore throat remedies

Most sore throats are soon over – in the meantime, the following remedies may help:

  • Drink warm liquids – honey or lemon tea is a time-tested remedy
  • Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water)
  • Drink cold liquids or suck on popsicles
  • Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges to soothe your sore throat
  • This is often as effective as more expensive remedies
  • DO NOT use candies or lozenges in young children because of the choking risk
  • Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to moisten and soothe a dry and painful throat
  • Try over-the-counter pain medications, such as Panadol
  • DO NOT give aspirin to children


Most cases of pharyngitis go away on their own without complications


  • Complications of pharyngitis may include:
  • Blockage of the airway (in severe cases)
  • Tonsillitis or abscess around the tonsils or behind the pharynx

Call your doctor if:

  • You develop a sore throat that does not go away after several days
  • You have a high fever, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, or a rash
  • Seek immediate medical care if you have a sore throat and trouble breathing



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