What Is Worse Pharyngitis Or Laryngitis?
Pharyngitis and laryngitis are inflammatory conditions which affect the upper airway. Most of these inflammatory conditions are self-limiting (if the etiology is viral) and recovery is fast. So we cannot tell what is worse because both conditions are self-limiting if it is from a viral infection, but if it is from a bacterial infection it can be severe than the viral infection and may cause complications.
Both pharyngitis and laryngitis are self-limiting diseases if the origin is viral, but sometimes bacterial infection can lead to serious infection and complications. The causative organisms are mostly the same viruses and bacteria. The symptoms in both conditions are mostly the same and sometimes overlap as both inflammations can coexist together. Usually can be diagnosed by clinical features, investigations are needed if the diagnosis is not clear. Treatment is usually reassurance and advice on doing steam inhalation, voice rest. Therefore we can’t tell what is worst whether its pharyngitis or laryngitis. Both diseases are usually self-limiting.
First we will see what is pharyngitis, pharyngitis is defined as erythema of the oropharynx and soft palate with or without inflammation of the tonsils.
Causes of Pharyngitis
- Viral ( 70 – 80%) – Adenovirus, Influenza virus, Epstein – Barr virus
- Bacterial (20 – 30%) – Group A streptococcus, Corynebacterium diphtheriae, Neisseria gonorrhoea, Haemophilus influenza, Tuberculosis, Syphillis
- Fungal – Candida albicans
- Gastroesophageal reflux Disease (GERD)
- Cigarette abuse
- Alcohol abuse
Symptoms and Signs of Pharyngitis
- Throat pain.
- Difficulty/painful swallowing.
- Mild fever.
- On examination throat will be red and swollen, pustules will be present if it’s bacterial.
- If tonsillitis present tonsils will be red and swollen.
- Palpable neck lymph nodes.
- It is difficult to diagnose streptococcal pharyngitis just by examination however faint pink sandpaper-like rash that fades around the sixth day of the sore throat is characteristic. It also causes a red strawberry tongue.
Diagnosis of Pharyngitis
Good clinical history and examination will be sufficient to diagnose pharyngitis. However, if your doctor has any doubt if its viral or bacterial or if it’s some other pathology, then further investigations will be carried out like Full blood count (FBC), Anti Streptolysin O titres (ASOT), Paul Bunnell Test.
Treatment for Pharyngitis
Usually pharyngitis is self-limiting so reassurance and advice will be enough to control the symptoms. Steam inhalation, anesthetic lozenges may help. Antibiotics should be only prescribed if there are systemic symptoms, if throat examination reveals grossly reddened, edematous throat with pustules, strawberry tongue, and previous history of rheumatic fever or investigations revealed bacterial etiology. It is important to treat GERD, it is one of the main causes of getting pharyngitis in adults and children. Also smoking and alcohol should be stopped.
Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx.
Causes of Laryngitis
- Viral (majority of cases) – Adenovirus, Influenza virus, Parainfluenza virus, Rhinovirus, Respiratory syncytical virus
- Bacterial – Haemophilus influenza virus, Diphtheria
- Fungal – Candidia albicans
- Vocal cord abuse
Symptoms and Signs of Laryngitis
- Hoarseness of the voice
- Difficulty in speaking
- Sore throat
- Mild fever
- Irritating cough
- A constant need to clear your throat
- Diffuse erythematous larynx with swollen vocal cords
Diagnosis of Laryngitis
Good clinical history and examination can diagnose laryngitis. However, if your doctor has any doubt if its viral or bacterial origin, then further investigations will be carried out like full blood count (FBC), throat culture.
Treatment for Laryngitis
Usually laryngitis is self-limiting, so reassurance and advice will be enough to control the symptoms. Voice rest and steam inhalation can help. Antibiotics and other medication should be only prescribed if there are systemic symptoms, breathing difficulties or investigations revealed bacterial etiology or different diagnosis. It is important to treat GERD, it is one of the main causes of getting laryngitis in adults and children. Also smoking and alcohol can also cause irritation in the larynx therefore should be stopped.
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