Viral pharyngitis is a sore, inflamed throat.
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Viral pharyngitis is more common in children and adolescents. Other factors that may increase your chances of viral pharyngitis include:
Viral pharyngitis may cause:
- Sore, red, swollen throat
- Trouble swallowing
- Throat ulcerations
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck and behind the ears
- Decreased appetite
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most viral sore throats are diagnosed based on the symptoms and an examination of the throat. A sample of fluid at the back of the throat may be taken to make sure a bacterial infection, like strep, is not there.
There are no treatments to cure viral infections. Most of these infection will go away on their own within about a week.
Treatments may help to relieve symptoms until you are better. Options include:
Over the counter pain medicine—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help with discomfort
- Note : Aspirin can cause serious complications in some children with certain infections. It is best to avoid aspirin or aspirin products for children with infections.
- Gargle with warm salt water can help relieve a sore throat.
- Use throat lozenges.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Hot drinks and soups or cold fluids can be very soothing for a sore throat.
- Use a cool-mist humidifier. It can help keep your nasal passages moist and reduce congestion.
To help reduce your chance of viral pharyngitis:
- Wash your hands frequently. Do this especially after blowing your nose or after caring for a child with a sore throat.
- If someone in your home has a sore throat, keep their eating utensils and drinking glasses separate from those of other family members. Wash these objects in hot, soapy water.
- If a toddler with a sore throat has been sucking on toys, wash the toys in soap and water.
- Immediately get rid of used tissues, and then wash your hands.
- If you have hay fever or another respiratory allergy, create a plan to manage allergies. This should include avoiding allergens and taking medicine before exposure.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
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Last reviewed September 2018 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP Last Updated: 9/9/2020