Acute Pharyngitis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment


Acute pharyngitis, commonly known as a sore throat, is an inflammation of the pharynx, the part of the throat situated behind the mouth and nasal cavity. It is a prevalent condition that can be caused by various factors, including viral and bacterial infections. In this article, we will explore the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options for acute pharyngitis, providing valuable insights into this common throat ailment.


Acute pharyngitis is characterized by redness and swelling of the pharynx, which can cause discomfort and pain. It is most often caused by viral infections, such as the common cold or influenza. However, bacterial infections, particularly group A Streptococcus, can also lead to strep throat, a specific type of pharyngitis.


The symptoms of acute pharyngitis may vary but commonly include:

  • Sore or scratchy throat
  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing
  • Redness and swelling of the pharynx
  • White patches or pus on the tonsils
  • Hoarseness
  • Coughing
  • Mild fever
  • Runny nose


Acute pharyngitis can be caused by:

  • Viral infections: The common cold, influenza, and other viral infections can lead to pharyngitis.
  • Bacterial infections: Streptococcal bacteria, especially group A Streptococcus, can cause strep throat.
  • Environmental factors: Allergies, dry air, or irritants like cigarette smoke can contribute to throat irritation.


Diagnosing acute pharyngitis involves a medical history, physical examination, and throat culture or rapid antigen test to identify the presence of group A Streptococcus bacteria.


Treatment for acute pharyngitis depends on the cause:

  • Viral pharyngitis: Most cases of acute pharyngitis are viral and do not require antibiotics. Rest, plenty of fluids, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate symptoms.
  • Bacterial pharyngitis (strep throat): If the rapid antigen test or throat culture confirms strep throat, antibiotics, usually penicillin or amoxicillin, are prescribed to treat the infection and prevent complications.
  • Home remedies: Soothing measures such as gargling with warm saltwater, using throat lozenges, or drinking warm fluids can help ease throat discomfort.
  • Rest: Getting plenty of rest allows the body to recover and fight off the infection.


Preventing acute pharyngitis involves practicing good hygiene, such as:

  • Frequent handwashing
  • Avoiding close contact with individuals who have sore throats or respiratory infections
  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing


Acute pharyngitis, or a sore throat, is a common condition that can result from viral or bacterial infections. While viral pharyngitis typically resolves on its own with rest and home remedies, bacterial pharyngitis requires appropriate antibiotics. If you experience persistent or severe symptoms, consult a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Practicing good hygiene and avoiding contact with infected individuals can help reduce the risk of acute pharyngitis and promote overall throat health.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider for accurate diagnosis and treatment options specific to your condition.