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Learn More About The 7 Most Common Sore Throat Ailments

Viral Sore Throat (Viral Pharyngitis)

Viral Sore Throat (Viral Pharyngitis)

Sore throat is the main symptom in patients with viral pharyngitis. There may be additional symptoms based on the viral type, therefore a sore throat may not be the only symptom present, and may be preceded by, and certainly not limited to, nasal symptoms such as: discharge, congestion or postnasal drip. Throat symptoms may include: prominent redness, mucous discharge, soreness, scratchiness, or irritation. If there is notable mucous discharge it is important to take note of its color and report your symptoms to your healthcare provider.

Symptoms

Figure 1. Shows redness of the soft palate, uvula, posterior wall of throat (pharynx) and tonsillar pillars.

Figure 2. Shows increased redness & petechia on the soft palate, uvula, posterior wall of throat (pharynx), and tonsillar pillars.

Figure 3. Shows redness of the soft palate and tonsillar pillars.

Figure 4. Shows petechia on the back of the throat (pharynx) and the anterior pillar.

Figure 5. Shows petechia on the Uvula, tonsillar pillars, and back of throat (pharynx).

Figure 6. Shows some redness on the soft palate and tonsillar pillars.

Find links to the other common sore throat ailments in our Sore Throat Guide at the bottom of the page.

Normal Throat 

Viral Sore Throat

A Normal Throat is pink rather than fire-engine red, and has no sores or ulcers. Size of tonsils will vary, but the tonsils will not be a very different color from the surrounding throat tissue.

Viral Pharyngitis (Viral Sore Throat) may include some or all of the following: redness of the soft palate, uvula, pharynx, or tonsils (a.), multiple tiny hemorrhages (hemorrhagic petechiae) on the soft palate, uvula, pharynx, or tonsils (b.), and/or enlarged tonsils (c.). Keep in mind that any of the symptoms above might appear individually or in any combination.

Sore throats are most commonly caused by viruses and occur as a component of the common cold and flu. Viral Pharyngitis is a viral infection of the pharynx. By definition the pharynx is the area that connects the nasal and oral cavities with the larynx and esophagus; in other words the throat. Notably, about 90% of throat infections are caused by a virus. Each year, sore throats are responsible for more than 40 million doctor visits, in the U.S. Most children and adults experience 3 to 5 viral upper respiratory tract infections (including pharyngitis) per year. World Wide, viral pharyngitis is one of the most common causes of absence from school or work.

An estimated 200 to 300 different strains of virus are confirmed causes of the common cold and sore throat. Although sore throat affects people of all ages, children ages 5 to 15 are considered at higher risk compared to other age groups.

Causes

Once the throat is viewed and symptoms are recognized, similarities of signs and symptoms of viral pharyngitis makes it almost impossible to specify the cause. It is also worth noting that viral sore throats may appear very different in many individuals. In most cases, the diagnosis of viral pharyngitis may not alter treatment. Typically, throat cultures are not needed to make a diagnosis.

Diagnosis

Complications with viral pharyngitis associated with a common cold are actually quite low. However, complications do exist when pharyngitis is associated with other illnesses such as Mononucleosis, Herpes, Influenza, RSV ( Respiratory Syncytial Virus) and other types of infections which may present differently from your typical viral pharyngitis. These exceptions may present a more complicated picture which should be discussed with your doctor.

Complications

With Viral sore throats antibiotics are generally not prescribed. Treatment typically includes rest, fluids, and symptomatic relief.

Treatment

Important preventive measures should include frequent hand washing or use of antiseptic gels.

 

Stay ahead of the game and keep hand sanitizers and disinfectant sprays and wipes close by. Danger zones, such as bathrooms, TV remotes and gaming controls are just a few examples of where viruses may lurk.

 

Teach or remind all family members to sneeze into the crook of their elbow and not their hands! And don't forget hand washing - 20 seconds or more of vigorous washing with soap and water helps to decrease the chance of catching a cold or flu.

 

Keep in mind that in each photograph below, it is rare for all symptoms to appear at once in one individual; you may see only one, two or more symptoms at the same time. Always discuss your observations with your physician.

Prevention