About Pharyngitis: Symptoms and Complications

The symptoms of acute pharyngitis are usually more severe in children. They include dry, sore throat, fatigue and mild fever. Swallowing is often painful and sometimes difficult. Pharyngitis may be accompanied by headache and a harsh cough. A person with pharyngitis can frequently be heard trying to clear their throat. The throat often becomes swollen and covered with a mucus-like substance known as an exudate. Pharyngitis that is caused by a virus is often associated with a runny nose and postnasal drip. Pharyngitis that accompanies the common cold is usually mild in nature and lasts for only a few days.

Strep throat is quite common in children less than three years old, but is much less common in adults. Strep throat may be accompanied by a higher fever than commonly occurs with viral pharyngitis (often above 38.3o C) and swollen lymph glands in the neck. Children often complain of stomach pain with Strep throat. Sore throat pain usually occurs more rapidly and is more intense than the sore throat pain associated with viral infections. Strep throat usually lasts between three days to one week. The most serious risks associated with strep throat are acute rheumatic fever or glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney).

The symptoms of chronic pharyngitis are similar to acute pharyngitis, but not as severe. Since chronic pharyngitis is not usually associated with infection, fever does not develop.

A person should see a doctor if they develop a sore throat that does not go away within several days, or if they develop high fever, swollen lymph glands in the neck, or a rash. Any time difficulty in breathing occurs, a doctor should be seen at once.

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