Sore throat is one of the most common ailments that people feel at least once a year. It can be caused by so many factors, and the diagnoses may also vary. Like fever, a sore throat is more often than not a symptom of an underlying illness. It is not a real disease, and you need to know the culprit that caused it so you can handle and treat it appropriately. One of the main diagnoses that doctors give is pharyngitis. This is the medical term for an inflamed throat caused by an infection.
This disease may be acute (sudden episode) or chronic(recurring), but we have to remember that pharyngitis can be transmitted easily, whether a virus or bacteria caused it. A simple sneeze, cough, or laugh can spread the microorganism where the disease originated, so it is important that you treat it as soon as possible. But how long does pharyngitis last? Let us find out how long the duration of acute and chronic pharyngitis is, why it is lingering, and how to treat it.
How Long Does Pharyngitis Last?: Acute or Chronic Sore Throat
In general, the duration of having a sore throat would depend on what caused it. If you and your doctor could pinpoint the culprit at once, then you would not have to endure your symptoms for long since you can be given the right medications to fight the infection.
Acute pharyngitis is usually caused by a virus. Almost 90% of the time, a viral infection from the flu bug may last for at least a week since this is the lifespan of the self-limiting flu virus. Some who have higher immunity can feel symptoms for about 3 days, then feel fine afterward. However, if the viral pharyngitis is a symptom of measles, chickenpox, or croup, then you can expect that it will stay for as long as the disease is present in your body. There are also instances that acute pharyngitis is caused by bacteria, but these are less common than viral infection.
Chronic pharyngitis is a bit more puzzling to treat. This type may last a few days, then come back once triggered. It can be caused by so many underlying factors, but having a health condition connected to your throat can mainly be the culprit. Allergies, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and throat cancer may be causing your recurring sore throat. So you can expect that pharyngitis, as a symptom of any of these diseases, will still be present until the main illness is solved. Smoking and being exposed constantly to pollutants can also cause your sore throat, and it will continuously haunt you until you lessen and stop your contact with these allergens.
Strep Throat: Is it Different from Pharyngitis?
You may think that strep throat is a different type of disease from pharyngitis, but the truth is, they are the same. Pharyngitis, as we mentioned earlier, can also be caused by bacteria, although it is less common compared to its viral counterparts. One of the common bacteria that invade the throat is the Streptococci, hence the name strep throat. You can get infected by this bacteria if you are exposed to it, then touched your eyes, nose, or mouth. The spread of the strep bacteria can be from sneezing, sharing utensils, coughing, or touching surfaces exposed to the bacteria (doorknobs, toilets, railings, faucets, etc.)
The symptoms a patient with strep throat may experience is the same with pharyngitis, like chills, headache, and body weakness. Still, two of the things that we usually watch out for are high fevers and difficulty swallowing. This is because our airway is connected to this passageway, and if the throat becomes inflamed, there may be a risk of experiencing breathing difficulties as well.
How to Treat Pharyngitis
Because viral infections are self-limiting (they go away on their own), there are home remedies that you can do to help soothe the symptoms of your sore throat.
- Saltwater gargle
- Increased water intake
- Consuming cold foods and drinks
- Have plenty of rest
Whether your sore throat is caused by a virus, bacteria, or allergens, these home remedies can still be effective in addressing your health complaints, but these are not proper treatments. Taking antibiotics for bacterial pharyngitis as prescribed by your doctor is still the best way to fight the cause of your discomfort.
How Long Does Pharyngitis Last?: When to Seek Professional Help
We mentioned that sore throats are common and can easily be managed at home. But there are instances where you need a doctor’s advice, especially if you feel that your symptoms are worsening. If you feel two or more of the following, then it’s time to seek medical help.
- Symptoms lasting for more than 10 days
- Constant fever
- Cold sweats and chills
- Painful and swollen lymph nodes palpable on the neck
- Difficulty swallowing
- Moderate to severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Tummy ache (which can lead to vomiting)
Once you see your doctor, he may be able to pinpoint the cause of your sore throat and allow you to take appropriate medications for it. He can also determine if there are other conditions that may cause your sore throat, like tonsillitis, or the serious diseases we mentioned like GERD or throat cancer. What’s important is that we are able to seek medical attention as soon as possible if the symptoms persist so we can appropriately address your health complaints.