The pharynx is part of the throat between the tonsils and vocal cords (the larynx). Acute (sudden) inflammation of the pharynx, e.g. acute tonsillitis, is the result of bacterial and viral infections. The only difference is that pharyngitis is usually the easier form of disease compared to tonsillitis, and some medical experts call both diseases simply “acute sore throat.” Permanent infection (chronic pharyngitis) occurs when a chronic infection of adjacent organs – usually the respiratory system, sinuses or mouth – expand to the pharynx. However, pharyngitis can be caused by irritation and inflammation of the pharynx without infection – for example, cigarette smoke, alcohol or overuse of the voice.
If you have acute pharyngitis you feel pain in the throat, have difficulties while swallowing and you probably feel feverish. As with tonsillitis, your throat is red and sore. If you have a chronic pharyngitis, symptoms usually are not as severe. Regardless of the type of pharyngitis, your voice is hoarse if the infection spread to the larynx.
What to do?
Try with instructions for self-help, which we described in detail below, if you suspect you have pharyngitis. If, despite these measures sore throat persists for longer than (few) days, you must contact your doctor.
Self-help: Do not smoke, regardless of whether you have acute or chronic pharyngitis. Relax your throat by taking mostly liquid foods. Various lozenges, mouthwash and gargle should relieve the symptoms of acute pharyngitis, and aspirin or paracetamol can calm the pain.
Professional help: doctor usually prescribes antibiotic tablets for the acute and especially poignant attack. In the case of chronic pharyngitis, your doctor will try to detect and treat the primary source of infection. After that, the disease will go away.