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Bacterial pharyngitis

Bacterial Pharyngitis Treatment & Management

Pharyngitis is an infection of the pharynx in the back of the throat. It’s the medical term for what’s commonly referred to as a sore throat. Pharyngitis is not an illness in and of itself but rather a symptom of an illness. There can be many causes of a sore throat, but one common cause is bacterial. Here is how bacterial pharyngitis is treated.

  • What is pharyngitis?
  • What are the symptoms of pharyngitis?
  • How is pharyngitis diagnosed?

What kind of bacteria can cause pharyngitis?

Several different types of bacteria can cause pharyngitis. Streptococcus bacteria (the bacteria that causes strep throat) is the most common cause of bacterial pharyngitis. Strep throat can be caused by several different types of Streptococcus but the most common is group A Streptococcus (GAS). Other bacterial causes of pharyngitis include sexually transmitted bacteria and, in rare cases, other types of bacteria.

What are the symptoms of pharyngitis?

A sore throat can manifest in several different ways. It may start as a dry and/or itchy feeling in the back of the throat. Pain may be present nearly constantly, or just when swallowing, talking, coughing, or otherwise using the throat. With bacterial pharyngitis, and strep throat in particular, the sore throat tends to be severe. 

Home remedies

You can do several things at home to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat until you see a doctor or while you are waiting for medication to begin taking effect.

Pain relievers are generally safe for helping to relieve pain associated with a sore throat. Gargling with salt water may also provide some relief. There are also throat sprays and lozenges that help with sore throat pain. 

You should throw out your toothbrush after a strep infection to avoid reinfection yourself with the bacteria as well. Wash your hands often and avoid close contact with others to prevent spreading strep throat.

Bacterial pharyngitis treatment

Treatment involves antibiotics to kill off the bacteria at the source of the infection. Your doctor will perform a rapid strep test. If it comes back negative, your doctor may do a throat culture to double-check since false negatives can show up on the rapid strep test. Once a positive shows up, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin. 

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