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Pharyngitis: Treatment, Procedure, Cost and Side Effects

Last Updated: Nov 25, 2023

What is the treatment?

Pharyngitis is an inflammation of the pharynx- a respiratory tract infection, resulting in a sore throat and high body temperature due to viral or bacterial infection. Symptoms that include cough, hoarse voice, headache and a runny nose are usually for 3-5 days and generally the condition gets healed itself with simple home remedies. The treatment is usually symptomatic. For cases where the infection is severe because it is caused by a bacterial infection, medical treatment is required. Doctors prescribe some antibiotics for the treatment. As suggested by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the most common antibiotics prescribed for pharyngitis are penicillin and amoxicillin. But, to prevent antibiotic resistance you must complete the course of medication which is usually for a period of 7-10 days. The bad infection also causes fever and pain in the throat. This can be treated with the help of over-the-counter medications. In case of viral pharyngitis, oral-fluids, salt-water gargling and ample rest are effective measures. Antipyretics and analgesics can be used for relieving pain and pyrexia. Aspirin is suggested only to adults and not to children. For severe infection, doctors may also prescribe steroids. In case of recurrent pharyngitis, tonsillectomy is advisable for a complete cure.

How is the treatment done?

Strep throats are mainly caused by viruses. After the infection is confirmed with a Rapid Antigen Detection Test (RADT) or a throat culture the treatment can be commenced with. Treatment includes oral antibiotics that must be administered for at least 10 days. The preferred antibiotic for pharyngitis is oral penicillin V. Amoxicillin is also one of the antibiotics often prescribed for the treatment and is acceptable because of the improvised palatability and the once daily dose. Pain relievers like acetaminophen (paracetamol) is quite effective in reducing sore throat pain, also viscous lidocaine can be used as pain reliever which acts by numbing the mucous membranes and oral analgesic solutions like phenol as the most commonly used one with some less common ones like menthol, benzocaine etc. In some cases ibuprofane can be used instead of acetaminophen for symptomatic relief especially in children. For treatment of intense odynophagia, hospitalisation for intravenous hydration must be required. On case a patient is affected with recurrent pharyngitis infection, or has a history of recent antibiotic usage or has a penicillin failure history, Cephalosporins must be considered as the first-line therapy. Some steroids like dexamethasone and prednisone have been proved to be effective against tracheal obstruction. In case of improper voice in chronic pharyngitis, speech therapy is provided; Mandl’s paint is also useful in chronic pharyngitis treatment wherein it is applied to the mucosal layer of the pharynx. To treat a chronic pharyngitis, laser treatment is used which is performed with local anaesthesia and takes 10-15 minutes. Laser Granular Ablation technology is used to remove the granular follicles with the help of CO2 laser.

Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)

Patients affected with the severe bacterial or viral tracheal infection is eligible for treatment. If the adult patients are diagnosed with Group A streptococcal infection, they must go for pharyngitis treatment.

Who is not eligible for the treatment?

If the swab test of your sore throat does not give positive results for Group A streptococcal infection, you cannot be treated with medications.

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Are there any side effects?

Antibiotics like penicillin, amoxicillin and cephalosporins can cause side effects such as diarrhoea, fever, body aches and flu symptoms sever skin rash, nausea, headache or even vaginal itching and less urinating. In fact acetaminophen drugs can also have similar side effects. The laser treatment does not have any side effect as such. Due to the risk of Reye’s Syndrome in children, aspirin is not prescribed to them.

What are the post-treatment guidelines?

Usually there is not much complication after pharyngitis treatment and it takes just 4-5 days to completely recover from the condition. But after you receive the treatment you must keep a follow-up and go for post-treatment throat cultures. Apart from this, some home remedies like warm water gargling, soothing your throat with the help of strep throat specific lozenzes and drinking warm water, staying away from cold and keeping yourself warm is important for quick recovery. In case fever and severe symptoms persist even after treatment or when it is going on, patient must consider reassessment.

How long does it take to recover?

If the pharyngitis has occurred due to a viral infection, it may take about a week to recover and in case of strep throat, the recovery is quite quick which is just within 3-5 days.

What is the price of the treatment in India?

The cost for treatment of pharyngitis, both minor and chronic, ranges from Rs. 200 to Rs. 5,000 inclusive of consultation fees, medication and surgery.

Are the results of the treatment permanent?

The results cannot be actually called permanent because patients prone to cold and pahryngitis get affected by the condition at least 2-3 times a year, whenever they are affected by cold due to change of weather.

What are the alternatives to the treatment?

Alternatives to pharyngitis treatment are usually home remedies because the symptoms are normally not very severe and chronic. So, treating strep throat and viral pharyngitis with simple home remedies like keeping yourself hydrated, gargling with warm salty water, spraying a cool mist vaporiser or anaesthetic throat sprays to sooth throat dryness, using throat lozenzes and drinking warm liquids like tea are quite helpful.

References

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Written ByDr. Ashok Mishra MBBSGeneral Physician
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