Pharyngitis is inflammation of the pharynx, which is in the back of the throat. It’s most often referred to simply as “sore throat.” Pharyngitis can also cause scratchiness in the throat and difficulty swallowing.
There are numerous viral and bacterial agents that can cause pharyngitis. They include:
- adenovirus, which is one of the causes of the common cold.
- group A streptococcus.
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Viruses are the most common cause of sore throats. Pharyngitis is most commonly caused by viral infections such as the common cold. Viral infections don’t respond to antibiotics, and treatment is only necessary to help relieve symptoms.
Less commonly, pharyngitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Bacterial infections require antibiotics. Frequent exposure to colds and flus can increase your risk for pharyngitis. This is especially true for people with jobs in healthcare, allergies, and frequent sinusitis.
The incubation period is typically 2 – 5 days.
The length of the contagious period will also depend on your underlying condition. If you have a viral infection, you will be contagious until your fever runs its course. If you have strep throat, you may be contagious from the onset until you’ve spent 24 hours on antibiotics.
The common cold usually lasts less than 10 days. Symptoms, including fever, may peak around three to five days. If pharyngitis is associated with a cold virus, you can expect your symptoms to last this duration of time.
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