What is Pharyngitis?
Inflammation of pharynx is termed as pharyngitis. Pharynx is located at the back of the throat and is the most common cause of throat pain or sore throat. There are two ways by which one can have pharyngitis i.e., viral and bacterial. In this article we will focus on bacterial causes of pharyngitis, its causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment.
What Is Bacterial Pharyngitis?
Generally, pharyngitis is caused by viral infections. Less common but nevertheless pharyngitis is also caused by bacterial infections requiring antibiotic treatment. The most common bacterial infection of throat is Strep Throat, which is caused by Streptococcus-A bacterium. Some of the very rare causes of bacterial pharyngitis are gonorrhea, chlamydia, and corynebacterium.
What Are The Forms Of Bacteria Responsible For Bacterial Pharyngitis Causing Throat Pain?
The most common form of bacteria responsible for causing pharyngitis is Streptococcus pyogenes. If there is a suspicion of exposure to such bacteria, it can be confirmed with routine lab tests. Such bacterial infections need to be treated with a course of antibiotics. If not treated appropriately, Streptococcus pyogenes pharyngitis can result in some sort of complications. In rare cases, bacteria apart from Streptococcus pyogenes are known to cause pharyngitis.
Symptoms of Throat Pain Due to Bacterial Pharyngitis
The Common Symptoms Which Accompany Bacterial Pharyngitis Are-
- White filming in the throat
- Swelling of lymph nodes present in the neck
- Appetite loss along with nausea
- Loss of taste
- General malaise
- In some cases, there may be development of rashes, especially with Infectious Mononucleosis.
Investigations To Confirm Throat Pain Due to Bacterial Pharyngitis
The following are the investigations done generally if there is a suspicion of bacterial Pharyngitis-
Physical Exam for Throat Pain Due to Bacterial Pharyngitis
If an individual is having symptoms of pharyngitis, a physician does a careful inspection of the throat to look for white filming in the throat, redness, or swelling. The physician may also look for swollen lymph nodes in the neck area.
Throat Culture for Throat Pain Due to Bacterial Pharyngitis
The next form of investigation is a throat culture where the physician may use a swab to take a sample of secretions and send it for culture. A physician can also do a rapid strep test which helps to identify, if the test is positive, for Streptococcus bacteria.
Blood Tests for Throat Pain Due to Bacterial Pharyngitis
Apart from the above tests or if the above tests come back negative and the physician suspects some other cause for sore throat or throat pain then the physician may order a blood test. A blood test may identify whether you have mononucleosis. It can also be done to rule out throat infection due to other potential causes like measles, croup, whooping cough etc.
How Can I Prevent Contracting Bacterial Pharyngitis Resulting In Throat Pain?
If one follows the following steps then he or she can avoid getting bacterial pharyngitis.
- Maintaining appropriate hygiene prevents pharyngitis in a big way.
- Avoid sharing of food, drinks, and utensils from an infected individual.
- Avoid coming in contact with infected individuals.
- Wash hands especially before eating and after coughing or sneezing.
- Using hand sanitizers.
- Avoidance of smoking is essential or getting exposed to second-hand smoke.
Treatment for Throat Pain Due To Bacterial Pharyngitis
Antibiotics in the form of penicillin or amoxicillin are given for treatment of bacterial pharyngitis. These antibiotics are generally used to eliminate the bacteria and cut down the time when an individual is prone to spread the disease. Antibiotics also help prevent spread of bacteria to other parts of body. Antibiotics also prevent the immune system from being compromised due to bacteria.
Prognosis and Possible Complications of Throat Pain Due to Bacterial Pharyngitis
The prognosis is usually good and the symptoms go away within a week to fortnight with use of appropriate antibiotics.
When it comes to complications, they are rare in cases of bacterial pharyngitis but still there are chances of some possible complications. If not treated appropriately with antibiotic medications, complications can result, especially if the infection starts spreading to other parts of the body. For e.g., the infection can spread to ears and sinus. It can also result in a condition called peritonsillar abscess. It is also noted to have compromised the immune system resulting in a potentially serious condition like rheumatic fever. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to treat bacterial pharyngitis with appropriate antibiotics.
When Should I Seek Professional Medical Advice?
Most cases of bacterial pharyngitis can be successfully treated with antibiotics but one needs to seek medical advice if the following take place:
- You have had sore throat with throat pain for more than a week
- You have high fever
- You have swelling of lymph nodes
- There is a development of rash.