What We Treat
Pharyngitis and tonsillitis are terms to describe sore throat. Pharyngitis describes pain or swelling in the throat itself, while tonsillitis is specifically pain or swelling of the tonsils, the masses of tissue at the back of your throat. The throat, or pharynx, can be sore for a variety of reasons, and symptoms and treatments can vary depending on the specific cause.
Causes of sore throat vary from allergies to bacterial infections, to viral infections, as well as habits like smoking..
Some common bacterial infections that can cause either pharyngitis or tonsillitis are:
- Strep Throat: A condition caused by streptococcus pyogenes, a harmful bacteria that invades the tissue in your throat causing inflammation in your throat and tonsils. This is an incredibly common condition in school children, although adults can also contract it, and is highly contagious.
- Mononucleosis: A condition passed through saliva and transmitted by activities like kissing, sharing food or beverages, coughing, sneezing, or any other means of coming into contact with infected saliva. Many times this shows up in young adults and adolescents. It is also called “mono”.
Some common viral infections that can cause pharyngitis or tonsillitis are:
- The Common Cold: A viral infection that causes a host of unpleasant symptoms ranging from runny nose and sore throat to sneezing and congestion. It is incredibly contagious but ultimately harmless.
- Influenza Virus: Also called the flu, a severe condition caused by a viral infection that makes you feel very sick. It attacks your upper repertory system—nose and throat. It is different from the stomach flu.
Symptoms of pharyngitis and tonsillitis include swelling of the throat or tonsils, difficulty swallowing and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing, swollen lymph nodes, mild to severe pain or tenderness in the back of the throat, white or yellow coating in the back of the throat or on the tonsils, headache, loss of appetite, hoarseness or loss of voice, and redness in the back of the throat.
Treatments that relieve the pain and symptoms associated with pharyngitis or tonsillitis include sucking on lozenges, drinking lots of liquids, and gargling. Over-the-counter medicines may also help relieve the pain but do not necessarily eliminate the cause of the condition. Certain prescriptions may be recommended and can be prescribed through consultation.
Children should not take aspirin in the event of pharyngitis or tonsillitis. It should also be noted that the cause may be linked to a contagious infection and necessary precautions should be taken to make sure others do not contract the infection. This includes but is not limited to not sharing food or beverage, covering the nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and keeping one’s distance from others for the risk of airborne contagions.