Chronic or acute inflammation of the pharynx (the part of the throat that is located between the tonsils and the voicebox), causing a sore throat.
The most widespread cause is a viral infection. Pharyngitis often arises as part of a cold or influenza. It can also be a intial feature of glandular fever or scarlet fever. Occasionally, the condition is caused by a bacterial infection, such as streptococcal infection; a unusual but serious bacterial cause is diphtheria.
Swallowing substances that can corrode, scald, or scratch the lining of thr throat, smoking, and excessive drinking of alcohol can also be causes of pharyngitis.
As well as a sore throat, there can be pain and discomfort when swallowing, earache, slight fever, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. In extreme cases of pharyngitis, there can be a high fever, and the throat and soft palate may swell so much that breathing and swallowing become difficult.
Gargling with warm salty water and taking analgesic drugs (painkillers) is often the only treatment necessary. If the sore throat is prolonged or severe, a doctor may take a throat swab and prescribe antibiotic drugs.