Sore Throat

Pharyngitis is a term that refers to any kind of sore throat, and it can result from a variety of conditions. Most people suffer from a sore throat when battling a cold or influenza, but streptococcus bacteria (strep throat), allergies, smoking, tonsillitis and mononucleosis may also lead to throat aches and pain.


Symptoms of a sore throat include a burning or scratching sensation in the back of the throat, pain when swallowing and sometimes neck tenderness. Pharyngitis can often indicate a more serious infection or condition, so it is important to monitor any additional symptoms, such as fever, swelling in the tonsil area, headaches, body aches, cough or sinus congestion.

Who is at Risk?

Those who are suffering from a viral or a bacterial infection are at greatest risk of sore throat, although heavy smokers and allergy sufferers are also more commonly affected.

Treatment of a Sore Throat

Isolating the cause of your sore throat can help with treatment decisions. Antibiotics can help resolve a bacterial infection, but if a virus is the root cause, you can only address the symptoms. Gargling with saltwater, using throat lozenges and sprays, and taking over-the-counter pain relief and decongestant medications are the most effective ways to relieve symptoms. If tonsillitis is the cause of your sore throat, surgery to remove your tonsils may be advised by your doctor.

Emergency Warning Signs

If a serious sore throat or high fever persists for more than a couple of days, this might indicate a severe infection, so you should seek medical care immediately. If your tonsils are significantly swollen, covered in white patches, or impeding your breathing, you should contact a physician. If the sore throat is unassociated with other symptoms, has a sudden onset, or you are having difficulty swallowing liquids, you should seek medical care. If you develop a coarse-feeling red rash, it may be a sign of scarlet fever and should be addressed at once.