Treating Common Throat Infections Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis

Both Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis affect the throat and can be incredibly uncomfortable. Complications with both tend to be rare but the more you know about the infection that is affecting your body the easier you will find it to manage. This is everything you need to know about treating common throat infections Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis.

Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis - what’s the difference?

Both of these illnesses affect the throat area and cause inflammation. However, if the tonsils are the primary area affected then you have Tonsillitis - and if the problem is mainly in the rest of your throat then it will be Pharyngitis. If you have problems in both areas then this will be Pharyngotonsillitis. There are many similarities between Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis, including the origin, which is usually an infection that is spread as a result of close contact with others who have it. 

What causes Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis?

A virus is the most common cause of an infection. Viruses are very easily spread and don’t respond to antibiotics. You may have a whole list of symptoms with your Pharyngitis and 
Tonsillitis, from a low-grade fever and a headache to nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach aches, and a general sense of not feeling well. With Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis, you are also likely to have a sore throat, have difficulty swallowing without pain, and notice redness in the affected area.

Are there any other causes?

Yes, while most cases of Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis are caused by a virus, some can be the result of a parasitic infection, fungal infection, a bacteria, or even cigarette smoke.

What happens if you think you have Pharyngitis or Tonsillitis?

You will need to have a physical exam and a test (of the throat culture) to determine the cause of the problem. This is important because if the infection is bacterial then this can be treated with antibiotics, which will be key to help avoid the complications that could potentially result from a bacterial infection. Where the cause is something else, such as a virus, there are a range of other treatment options available, from using throat lozenges and gargling with salt water to help ease discomfort, to taking over-the-counter pain medication and drinking plenty of fluids. Most cases of Pharyngitis or Tonsillitis will clear up on their own and don’t need any further medical attention.

Are there any complications to watch out for?

Complications with Pharyngitis or Tonsillitis are unusual. When they do arise it is usually the result of a bacterial infection. This could, for example, lead to heart disease, rheumatic fever or kidney disease. If you have the symptoms of Pharyngitis or Tonsillitis but these are also accompanied by drooling, problems swallowing, or swelling in your neck then you should seek urgent medical help.

If you have Pharyngitis or Tonsillitis then it’s important to seek help so that you can identify the cause and start taking the right steps to get you back on the road to health.

Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.

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