Pharyngitis

Book an Appointment

Overview

Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is a highly contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. Pertussis is known for uncontrollable, violent coughing which often makes it hard to breathe.

(per-TUH-sis) A serious bacterial infection of the lungs and breathing tubes that spreads easily. Pertussis begins like a cold, but develops into severe coughing and gasping for air. Long spells of coughing may cause vomiting, and broken blood vessels in the eyes and on the skin. Also called whooping cough.

Symptoms

Once you become infected with whooping cough, it takes about seven to 10 days for signs and symptoms to appear, though it can sometimes take longer. They're usually mild at first and resemble those of a common cold:

Runny nose

Nasal congestion

Red, watery eyes

Fever

Cough

After a week or two, signs and symptoms worsen. Thick mucus accumulates inside your airways, causing uncontrollable coughing. Severe and prolonged coughing attacks may:

Provoke vomiting

Result in a red or blue face

Cause extreme fatigue

End with a high-pitched "whoop" sound during the next breath of air

However, many people don't develop the characteristic whoop. Sometimes, a persistent hacking cough is the only sign that an adolescent or adult has whooping cough.

Infants may not cough at all. Instead, they may struggle to breathe, or they may even temporarily stop breathing.

Causes

Many conditions and factors cause sore throat, also called pharyngitis. You may feel pain and irritation anywhere in the back of your mouth, on your tonsils, and down your neck. You may also have a fever, swollen lymph nodes in your neck, and a headache or earache.

Common causes of a sore throat include:

Viral infection: Most often, sore throats happen as a result of a viral infection, such as the flu or the common cold. Sore throats also occur with hand, foot, and mouth disease (caused by the Coxsackie virus) and mononucleosis (caused by the Epstein-Barr virus). Depending on the type of virus, symptoms typically go away on their own within a week to 10 days. Some viruses cause symptoms for a few months (for example, “mono”). Antibiotic medications do not work on viruses.

Tonsillitis: Tonsils are the two small lumps of soft tissue at the back of your throat. They trap the germs that make you sick. Tonsillitis occurs when your tonsils become infected and inflamed. Bacteria and viruses can cause tonsillitis.

Bacterial infection: Strep throat is an infection caused by a group of bacteria called group A Streptococcus. Symptoms of strep include fever and red, swollen tonsils. Your doctor can prescribe antibiotics to treat strep throat. Less common causes of bacterial sore throat include chlamydia, gonorrhea and corynbacterium.

Allergies: Allergies to pollen, dust mites, pets, or mold can make your throat dry and scratchy. Sore throat from allergies results from postnasal drip (when mucus from your nose drips down the back of your throat). The mucus irritates your throat and causes pain.

Acid reflux: People with a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) feel burning and pain in their throat. This pain, called heartburn, happens when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. The esophagus is the tube that carries food from your throat to your stomach.

Overuse or irritants: Yelling, screaming, singing without proper form, or talking too much without resting can lead to a sore throat. Spicy foods, smoking, and hot liquids can burn or irritate your throat.

Excessive dryness: If you sleep with your mouth open at night, you may wake up with a sore throat. Being congested (clogged up) due to a cold, flu or allergies can force you to breathe through your mouth.

Risk factors

Living or working in crowded places.

Not washing hands enough.

Allergies.

Lowered ability to fight infection due to: Stress or being tired. Recent illness. Long term health problems, such as HIV infection or AIDS. Chemotherapy.

Calendar Schedule

Have a medical question?

We are available to help you with all your questions and concerns.

Complications

Epiglottitis.

Otitis media.

Mastoiditis.

Sinusitis.

Acute rheumatic fever.

Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

Toxic shock syndrome.

Prevention

Maintaining proper hygiene can prevent many cases of pharyngitis.

To prevent pharyngitis:

avoid sharing food, drinks, and eating utensils

avoid individuals who are sick

wash your hands often, especially before eating and after coughing or sneezing

use alcohol-based hand sanitizers when soap and water aren’t available

avoid smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke