Is Pharyngitis Contagious & How Long Does it Last?

The inflammation of pharynx is known as Pharyngitis. Pharynx is present in the back of the throat. Pharyngitis is most commonly known as “Sore throat“. Pharyngitis can also cause scratchiness in the throat and difficulty swallowing. As per the American Osteopathic Association or AOA; Pharyngitis-induced sore throat is one of the most common reasons for doctor visits.

Is Pharyngitis Contagious?

Is Pharyngitis Contagious?

Now coming to the question Is Pharyngitis contagious?, one must be aware that pharyngitis itself cannot be transmitted or is not contagious; however, the infection causing pharyngitis can be transmitted and be contagious. The infection can be transmitted or spread via contact with mucus, nasal discharge and saliva of the infected person. The infected mucus from the infected person can land in another person’s nose, throat, eyes and enter the body.

It is spread, when the infected person sneezes, coughs or shares common items or utensils like brush, drinking glasses, handkerchiefs, towels, brush etc. The typical contagious period of pharyngitis is about 48 to 72 hours.

Though pharyngitis can occur at any age, children are more prone to pharyngitis as their immune system is not well developed as compared to the adult ones.

Causes of Pharyngitis

There are a number of viral and bacterial agents that may cause pharyngitis. Such agents are the measles, chickenpox, adenovirus, croup, whooping cough etc.

However, viruses are the most common cause of sore throat. Pharyngitis is most commonly caused by viral infections like the common cold, influenza, mononucleosis etc. It must be noted that viral infections usually do not respond to antibiotics and treatment is only required to aid relieve symptoms.

Less commonly, pharyngitis is caused by a bacterial infection which requires antibiotic treatment. The most common bacterial infection of the throat is strep throat. Gonorrhea, Chlamydia, corynebacterium etc are the rare causes of bacterial pharyngitis.

Frequent exposure to colds and flu can increase the risk of pharyngitis. Moreover, exposure to secondhand smoke can also increase the risk of pharyngitis.

Symptoms of Pharyngitis

Depending on the underlying condition, the symptoms accompanying pharyngitis may vary.

A cold or flu condition may have following symptoms along with a sore or scratchy throat.

In case of Mononucleosis; the symptoms may include sore throat and also the following.

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Severe fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • General malaise
  • Rash

One more type of Pharyngitis or the Strep throat has following symptoms.

  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Red throat with white or gray patches
  • Fever and chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • General Malaise
  • Unusual taste in the mouth.

Diagnosis for Pharyngitis:

Physical Examination:

If you are experiencing the symptoms of pharyngitis then your doctor will physically examine your throat and will check of any white or grey patches in the throat or even for swelling or redness in the throat. Moreover your doctor may also look in your nose and ears. The doctor would feel the sides of your neck so as to check for swollen lymph nodes.

Throat Culture:

In case your doctor suspects that you have strep throat then he or she will likely take a throat culture. This would involve using a cotton swab so as to take a sample of the secretion from your throat. This test will tell your doctor if the test is positive for streptococcus, in few minutes. In some cases, the swab may be sent to the lab for further testing and results would be available in about 24hours.

Blood Test:

In case your doctor suspects another cause of your pharyngitis, he or she may go for blood test. A small blood sample from your arm or hand may be drawn and sent to the lab for testing. This can determine if you have mononucleosis. A CBC or complete blood test may be done for determining if you have any other type of infection in pharyngitis.

Treatments for Pharyngitis

There are several treatment ways for pharyngitis and they include medical treatments, alternative treatments as well as special home care. Let us look below about the treatments.

Medical Treatment for Pharyngitis:

Medical treatment for pharyngitis is highly essential in some cases. This is especially when the pharyngitis is caused by bacterial infection. You may be prescribed with antibiotics. Penicillin is the most commonly prescribed treatment for sore throat. An entire course of these antibiotics usually lasts 7 to 10 days.

Over-the-counter medicines such as Ibuprofen, acetaminophen etc are taken to relieve the symptoms of pain, fever etc in pharyngitis.

Alternative Remedies for Pharyngitis:

There are some alternative remedies which are sometimes used to treat pharyngitis. However, you should contact your physician before using any of the alternative remedies so as to keep away from drug interactions or any other health complications. Honeysuckle, sage, licorice, slippery elm, marshmallow root etc are some of the comm. Herbs used for treating pharyngitis.

Home Treatment for Pharyngitis:

  • Salt water gargling at least for 3 times in a day acts pretty effectively in bringing condition of pharyngitis to normal.
  • Use a humidifier in order to relieve symptoms of pharyngitis
  • Eat warm broth
  • Rest well until you feel better.

How Long Does Pharyngitis Last?

Pharyngitis may be acute or chronic pharyngitis. Chronic pharyngitis is commonly seen in smokers and in patients having acid reflux disorder or in people eating too much of spicy foods.

Acute pharyngitis remains contagious till the fever and other symptoms are not cured and this may take 48 to 72 hours to provide relief from fever, and pain when a person is on antibiotic therapy is streptococcus infection.

Preventive Measures for Pharyngitis

Here are some of the preventive measures for pharyngitis.

  • Avoid sharing food, drinks, and eating utensils
  • Wash your hands more often, especially before and after eating, after coughing or sneezing
  • Make use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water are not available.
  • Avoid smoking and inhaling second hand smoke.


Most cases of pharyngitis can be treated successfully at home. However, there are some symptoms that require you to visit your healthcare provider so as to evaluate further. In case you have sore throat for more than 7 days, or have fever higher than 100.4 degree F, or if you develop a new rash or if you have swollen lymph nodes etc; then do visit your doctor and treat the condition well.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 17, 2022

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