Pharynx is found in the throat region. It has an essential role to play in speech and swallowing of the food. That is why it is observed that we find difficulty in speech and swallowing when we suffer an infection in the throat. Infection leads to pharyngitis. Read further, to know more about this very common problem.
The word “Pharyngitis” means inflammation of the pharynx. It is the uppermost region of the alimentary canal. Pharynx is the region commonly referred to as throat. It is divided into three parts – nasopharynx, oropharynx and laryngopharynx. Its functions include speech facilitation and acting as a path for food movement from the mouth to the stomach. Whenever there is an infection in the pharynx, it leads to inflammation. It is a very susceptible region and gets infected very soon.
Causes of this infection are virus and bacteria. Viral infections are more common as compared to bacterial infections. Bacteria that cause pharynx inflammation is streptococcus. When the infection is caused by streptococcus, it is known as “strep throat”. If not treated, “strep throat” can lead to the development of rheumatic fever. Other categories of bacteria which lead to diseases of the pharynx are Chlamydia pneumoniae, arcanobacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae and corynebacterium.
Occurrence of pharyngitis is mainly during winter months. It is a contagious infection, i.e., it can be easily transmitted from one person to the other. It is generally observed that family members transmit the infection to each other very easily. Coughing, sneezing, and sharing common items at home can cause the infection to pass on from one member to the other. Hence, it is advisable to avoid sharing things to prevent the infection from spreading.
Symptoms of pharyngitis include sore throat, pain in the throat while swallowing solid or liquid food, redness at the end of the mouth, fever, body ache with or without a runny nose, and enlarged lymph nodes. Pharyngitis usually continues for a few days and gets better if home remedies are followed religiously.
Home Remedies for Sore Throat
- Gargle with warm salt water to treat pain and inflammation.
- Drink warm liquids at regular intervals to provide the required warmth to the inflamed pharynx.
- Keep your mouth busy with medicated lozenges that are available at medical stores for treating sore throat.
- Take honey at bedtime as it has a soothing action on sore throat.
If home remedies provide no relief, taking a doctor’s appointment would be helpful. Doctors carry out physical examination of the mouth and throat region to identify the inflammation. They usually prescribe antibiotics to treat bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not prescribed to treat infections caused by virus as antibiotic resistance is developed by the bacteria. Viral infections do not need any medication because these get cured on their own. Doctors also prescribe pain killers to provide some relief from throat pain.
Certain laboratory tests can also be requested by the doctor to check for suspected cases of strep throat. One of these tests is the throat culture test, also known as the rapid strep test. It takes around 20 minutes to obtain the results. If a positive result is obtained, antibiotic treatment is started immediately. If the result obtained is negative, a throat culture is done to verify the result. Strep throat is prevalent among children aged 5-10 years. One can also acquire this infection if he/ she is in immediate contact with a person already having the infection.
Body’s reaction to any disease depends upon its immune system. If the immune system is strong, the body resists the attack of microorganisms causing infections. Pharyngitis is also related to the immune system. An alternative therapy to treat pharyngitis could be a homeopathic treatment. Homeopath’s treatment for sore throat is individual specific. If a person is suffering from an inflammation in the pharynx or a sore throat, give it sometime to get well on its own. If the symptoms persist, get in touch with a physician.