Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the back of the throat. Pharyngitis is more commonly known as a sore throat.

Symptoms can be a scratchy feeling in the back of the throat or difficulty swallowing. Pharyngitis is the most common reason for people to come to the doctor. It is most common in cold months of the year.

Viruses are the most common causes of sore throat (70 percenty to 85 percent). But some sore throats can be caused by bacteria (5 percent to 15 percent). People who commonly have a cold, flu-like symptom, allergies or sinus infections are most likely to develop pharyngitis.

Pharyngitis is most commonly caused by viral infections such as the common cold, influenza or mono. Viral infections don’t respond to antibiotics and only symptomatic treatment is necessary. Bacterial infections such as strep throat do need to be treated with antibiotics.

In addition to a sore throat you may experience sneezing, runny nose, headache, cough, fatigue, body aches, chills and fever. Strep throat may cause trouble swallowing, red throat with white patches, swollen lymph nodes, unusual taste, and loss of appetite.

If you are experiencing symptoms of pharyngitis you may need to see a doctor. Your doctor will examine your throat, ears and nose. The doctor may also look for swollen lymph nodes in the neck. If your doctor suspects strep throat they may do a throat culture. This involves using a swab to take a sample of saliva in the back of the throat. This will only take a few minutes to get the results. A blood test may also be done to confirm mono or other viral causes of pharyngitis.

If your pharyngitis is thought to be caused by bacteria, an antibiotic will be prescribed. It is important to take the full course of the antibiotic. Home care to reduce symptoms can also be done. This includes taking Tylenol or Ibuprofen, drinking plenty of fluids, gargling with warm salt water, using throat lozenges, using a humidifier and resting.

To prevent pharyngitis you should avoid sharing food and drinks. Avoid people who are sick. Wash your hands often using hand sanitizer or soap. Avoid smoke and second hand smoke.

You should see a doctor if you have a sore throat that lasts longer than a week, have a high fever, your lymph nodes are swollen or you develop a rash. A rash in the arm pits or groin may occur if you have untreated strep throat for more than 48 hours.