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What are Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis?

What are Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis?

January 31, 2024
What are Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis?

Pharyngitis and tonsillitis are both infections that cause soreness and inflammation in the throat. While both conditions share similarities, they have distinct characteristics that warrant a closer look.

When the pharynx (the space between the tonsils and the voicebox) is afflicted, it is referred to as pharyngitis. When the tonsils are affected, it is referred to as tonsillitis. When both the pharynx and the tonsils are affected, it’s called Pharyngotonsillitis.

These viral or bacterial infections are more common in the winter and colder months, as well as when your child is in close contact with others. Almost every child will get pharyngitis and tonsillitis at some point during their childhood.

What causes pharyngitis and tonsillitis?

There are many causes for infections in the throat. This includes bacteria, viruses, parasitic, and fungal infections, and cigarette smoke.

Common viruses include:

·      adenovirus Infections

·      Epstein-Barr virus

·      influenza virus

·      congenital herpes simplex

Common bacteria include:

·      group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS)

·      Haemophilus Influenzae Infections

·      Neisseria gonorrhea

·      Mycoplasma

What are the symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis?

The symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis are highly dependent on the cause. Symptoms may appear suddenly in some persons. Others have a gradual onset of symptoms. The following are the most common pharyngitis and tonsillitis symptoms:

·      Throat discomfort

·      Headache

·      Fever (either mild or severe)

·      Loss in appetite

·      Nausea

·      Not feeling well

·      Vomiting

·      Painful swallowing

·      Stomach aches

·      Redness or drainage in the throat

The symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis may look like other medical conditions or problems. Always check with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.

How are pharyngitis and tonsillitis usually diagnosed?

Distinguishing between a viral sore throat and strep throat during a physical exam is challenging. However, it’s crucial to determine if the sore throat is caused by strep bacteria because this requires antibiotics to prevent potential complications.

Typically, individuals experiencing symptoms undergo a strep test and throat culture to confirm if the infection is strep-related. This involves a throat swab performed at the healthcare provider’s office.

Quick tests, known as rapid strep tests, may be conducted. A positive result allows for immediate initiation of antibiotic treatment. 

If the rapid test is negative, a portion of the throat swab is retained for a throat culture, providing a more detailed identification of strep within 2 to 3 days. Based on these results, your healthcare provider will discuss the treatment plan with you.

Tonsillitis and Pharyngitis Treatment

Your doctor will decide the best treatment for pharyngitis and tonsillitis depending on the following factors:

·      The severity of the condition

·      The age, medical history, and general health 

·      The condition’s cause

·      Expectations for the condition’s progression

·      Tolerance to specific drugs, surgeries, or therapies

·      Your point of view or preference

If germs do not cause the infection, antibiotics are ineffective in treating viral sore throats. Treatment options include:

·      Acetaminophen 

·      Lozenges for a sore throat

·      Increased fluid consumption

·      Antibiotics (for infections caused by bacteria)

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