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Pharyngitis

Pharyngitis is an inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body's defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the back of the throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy ( pharynx Pharynx The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy). Pharyngitis is usually caused by an upper respiratory tract infection, which is viral in most cases. It typically results in a sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy and fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever. Other symptoms may include a runny nose Nose The nose is the human body's primary organ of smell and functions as part of the upper respiratory system. The nose may be best known for inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, but it also contributes to other important functions, such as tasting. The anatomy of the nose can be divided into the external nose and the nasal cavity. Nose and Nasal Cavity: Anatomy, cough, headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess, and hoarseness Hoarseness An unnaturally deep or rough quality of voice. Parapharyngeal Abscess. Determining the causative agent based on symptoms alone is difficult. Thus, a throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy swab is often performed to rule out a bacterial cause. The mainstay of treatment is symptomatic and supportive, with bacterial causes requiring antibiotics.

Last updated: Apr 1, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Etiology

Pharyngitis is defined as inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the pharynx Pharynx The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy and surrounding structures.

Most cases are due to an infectious Infectious Febrile Infant organism acquired from close contact with an infected individual.

  • Viral:
    • Adenovirus Adenovirus Adenovirus (member of the family Adenoviridae) is a nonenveloped, double-stranded DNA virus. Adenovirus is transmitted in a variety of ways, and it can have various presentations based on the site of entry. Presentation can include febrile pharyngitis, conjunctivitis, acute respiratory disease, atypical pneumonia, and gastroenteritis. Adenovirus (most common) 
    • Coxsackie A virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
    • Orthomyxoviridae Orthomyxoviridae A family of RNA viruses causing influenza and other diseases. There are five recognized genera: influenzavirus a; influenzavirus b; influenzavirus c; isavirus; and thogotovirus. Influenza Viruses/Influenza family
    • Epstein-Barr virus Epstein-Barr Virus Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a linear, double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the Herpesviridae family. This highly prevalent virus is mostly transmitted through contact with oropharyngeal secretions from an infected individual. The virus can infect epithelial cells and B lymphocytes, where it can undergo lytic replication or latency. Epstein-Barr Virus (causes infectious Infectious Febrile Infant mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis)
    • Herpes simplex Herpes Simplex A group of acute infections caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2 that is characterized by the development of one or more small fluid-filled vesicles with a raised erythematous base on the skin or mucous membrane. It occurs as a primary infection or recurs due to a reactivation of a latent infection. Congenital TORCH Infections virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
    • Measles Measles Measles (also known as rubeola) is caused by a single-stranded, linear, negative-sense RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae. It is highly contagious and spreads by respiratory droplets or direct-contact transmission from an infected person. Typically a disease of childhood, measles classically starts with cough, coryza, and conjunctivitis, followed by a maculopapular rash. Measles Virus virus Virus Viruses are infectious, obligate intracellular parasites composed of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid. Viruses can be either naked (non-enveloped) or enveloped. The classification of viruses is complex and based on many factors, including type and structure of the nucleoid and capsid, the presence of an envelope, the replication cycle, and the host range. Virology
    • Rhinovirus Rhinovirus Rhinovirus is an acid-labile, positive-sense RNA virus of the Picornavirus family. The virus, which causes the common cold, is most often acquired through the airway via the inhalation of aerosols containing rhinovirus and fomites. Rhinovirus
    • Coronavirus Coronavirus Coronaviruses are a group of related viruses that contain positive-sense, single-stranded RNA. Coronavirus derives its name from “κορώνη korṓnē” in Greek, which translates as “crown,” after the small club-shaped proteins visible as a ring around the viral envelope in electron micrographs. Coronavirus
    • Respiratory syncytial virus Respiratory Syncytial Virus Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is an enveloped, single-stranded, linear, negative-sense RNA virus of the family Paramyxoviridae and the genus Orthopneumovirus. Two subtypes (A and B) are present in outbreaks, but type A causes more severe disease. Respiratory syncytial virus causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. Respiratory Syncytial Virus
    • Parainfluenza virus Parainfluenza virus Human parainfluenza viruses (HPIVs) are single-stranded, linear, negative-sense RNA viruses of the family Paramyxoviridae and the genus Paramyxovirus. Human parainfluenza viruses are the 2nd most common cause of lower respiratory disease in children, after the respiratory syncytial virus. Parainfluenza Virus
  • Bacterial:
    • Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus pyogenes (most frequent bacterial cause of infectious Infectious Febrile Infant pharyngitis)
    • Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus pneumoniae (beta-hemolytic Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease are common in children aged 4–7 years)
    • Haemophilus influenzae Haemophilus Influenzae A species of Haemophilus found on the mucous membranes of humans and a variety of animals. The species is further divided into biotypes I through viii. Haemophilus
    • Bordetella pertussis Bordetella pertussis A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria that is the causative agent of whooping cough. Its cells are minute coccobacilli that are surrounded by a slime sheath. Bordetella
    • Bacillus anthracis Bacillus anthracis A species of bacteria that causes anthrax in humans and animals. Anthrax
    • Corynebacterium diphtheriae Corynebacterium diphtheriae Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by corynebacterium diphtheriae that most often results in respiratory disease with membranous inflammation of the pharynx, sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and weakness. The hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of the throat. Diphtheria
    • Neisseria gonorrhoeae Neisseria gonorrhoeae A species of gram-negative, aerobic bacteria primarily found in purulent venereal discharges. It is the causative agent of gonorrhea. Neisseria
    • Chlamydophila pneumoniae
    • Mycoplasma pneumoniae Mycoplasma pneumoniae Short filamentous organism of the genus mycoplasma, which binds firmly to the cells of the respiratory epithelium. It is one of the etiologic agents of non-viral primary atypical pneumonia in man. Mycoplasma
    • Fusobacterium Fusobacterium A genus of gram-negative, anaerobic, rod-shaped bacteria found in cavities of humans and other animals. No endospores are formed. Some species are pathogenic and occur in various purulent or gangrenous infections. Dog and Cat Bites necrophorum
  • Fungal:
    • Candidiasis Candidiasis Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis (oral thrush involving pharynx Pharynx The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy can occur in immunocompromised immunocompromised A human or animal whose immunologic mechanism is deficient because of an immunodeficiency disorder or other disease or as the result of the administration of immunosuppressive drugs or radiation. Gastroenteritis patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship, with antibiotic and inhaled glucocorticoid use, and in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship receiving chemotherapy Chemotherapy Osteosarcoma and/or radiation Radiation Emission or propagation of acoustic waves (sound), electromagnetic energy waves (such as light; radio waves; gamma rays; or x-rays), or a stream of subatomic particles (such as electrons; neutrons; protons; or alpha particles). Osteosarcoma)
  • Non-infectious causes:
    • Smoking Smoking Willful or deliberate act of inhaling and exhaling smoke from burning substances or agents held by hand. Interstitial Lung Diseases
    • Snoring
    • Shouting
    • Tracheal intubation Intubation Peritonsillar Abscess
    • Medications
    • Concomitant illness
    • Indoor and outdoor air pollutants
    • Temperature and humidity (e.g., dryness during winter Winter Pityriasis Rosea months, forced-air heating)
    • Hazardous or occupational irritants
    • Foreign body Foreign Body Foreign Body Aspiration (e.g., fishbone embedded in the pharynx Pharynx The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy)
    • Systemic inflammatory conditions: Kawasaki disease Kawasaki disease An acute, febrile, mucocutaneous condition accompanied by swelling of cervical lymph nodes in infants and young children. The principal symptoms are fever, congestion of the ocular conjunctivae, reddening of the lips and oral cavity, protuberance of tongue papillae, and edema or erythema of the extremities. Kawasaki Disease, Stevens-Johnson syndrome Stevens-Johnson syndrome Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is a cutaneous, immune-mediated hypersensitivity reaction that is commonly triggered by medications, including antiepileptics and antibiotics. The condition runs on a spectrum with toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) based on the amount of body surface area (BSA) involved. Stevens-Johnson Syndrome, Behçet’s syndrome, PFAPA (periodic fever, aphthous stomatitis Stomatitis Stomatitis is a general term referring to inflammation of the mucous membranes of the mouth, which may include sores. Stomatitis can be caused by infections, autoimmune disorders, allergic reactions, or exposure to irritants. The typical presentation may be either solitary or a group of painful oral lesions. Stomatitis, pharyngitis, adenitis) syndrome
    • Chemical exposure Exposure ABCDE Assessment (e.g., paraquat Paraquat A poisonous bipyridylium compound used as contact herbicide. Contact with concentrated solutions causes irritation of the skin, cracking and shedding of the nails, and delayed healing of cuts and wounds. Herbicide Poisoning, alkali)
    • Referred pain Referred Pain Spinal Disk Herniation (e.g., otitis media, tooth abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease)
    • Psychogenic

Clinical Presentation

  • Symptoms usually last 3–5 days
  • Throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy discomfort
  • Odynophagia Odynophagia Epiglottitis: painful swallowing Swallowing The act of taking solids and liquids into the gastrointestinal tract through the mouth and throat. Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Dry cough Dry Cough Strongyloidiasis
  • Cervical lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy Lymphadenopathy is lymph node enlargement (> 1 cm) and is benign and self-limited in most patients. Etiologies include malignancy, infection, and autoimmune disorders, as well as iatrogenic causes such as the use of certain medications. Generalized lymphadenopathy often indicates underlying systemic disease. Lymphadenopathy
  • Pharyngeal exudate Exudate Exudates are fluids, cells, or other cellular substances that are slowly discharged from blood vessels usually from inflamed tissues. Pleural Effusion
  • No cough or hoarseness Hoarseness An unnaturally deep or rough quality of voice. Parapharyngeal Abscess (points toward laryngitis Laryngitis Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx most commonly due to infection or trauma that can be either acute or chronic. In this condition, the 2 folds of mucous membranes that make up the vocal cords become inflamed and irritated. The inflammation results in a distortion of the voice produced, resulting in a hoarse sound or aphonia. Laryngitis if these symptoms are present)
  • Constitutional symptoms Constitutional Symptoms Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibody (ANCA)-Associated Vasculitis: body aches, headache Headache The symptom of pain in the cranial region. It may be an isolated benign occurrence or manifestation of a wide variety of headache disorders. Brain Abscess, fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, myalgia Myalgia Painful sensation in the muscles. Ion Channel Myopathy, malaise Malaise Tick-borne Encephalitis Virus, abrupt onset

Diagnosis

Centor score: estimates the probability Probability Probability is a mathematical tool used to study randomness and provide predictions about the likelihood of something happening. There are several basic rules of probability that can be used to help determine the probability of multiple events happening together, separately, or sequentially. Basics of Probability that pharyngitis is streptococcal and suggests management course for adults

  • Criteria:
    • Age 3–14 years: +1
    • Age 15–44 years: +0
    • Age ≥ 45 years: –1
    • Absence of cough: +1
    • Tonsillar exudates: +1
    • Fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever: +1
    • Tender anterior cervical adenopathy: +1
  • Scoring:
    • –1, 0, or 1 point: no further testing or antibiotics
    • 2 points: optional rapid strep testing and/or culture
    • 3 points: rapid strep test and/or culture recommended, antibiotics only if positive
    • 4 or 5 points: rapid strep testing and/or culture with empiric antibiotics recommended

Laboratory diagnosis:

  • Rapid strep test: detects ribonuclease Ribonuclease Enzymes that catalyze the hydrolysis of ester bonds within RNA. Interferons antigen Antigen Substances that are recognized by the immune system and induce an immune reaction. Vaccination
  • Throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy swab for culture 
  • Serological testing

Identification Identification Defense Mechanisms of beta-hemolytic streptococcal infection is of paramount importance as it is associated with the development of rheumatic heart disease Rheumatic Heart Disease Cardiac manifestation of systemic rheumatological conditions, such as rheumatic fever. Rheumatic heart disease can involve any part the heart, most often the heart valves and the endocardium. Rheumatic Fever if left untreated.

Diagnostic algorithm for pharyngitis

Diagnostic algorithm for pharyngitis

Image by Lecturio.

To recall the Centor criteria, remember:

  • C = cough 
  • E = exudate Exudate Exudates are fluids, cells, or other cellular substances that are slowly discharged from blood vessels usually from inflamed tissues. Pleural Effusion
  • N = nodes
  • T = temperature ( fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever)
  • OR = young OR old modifier

Management

  • The mainstay of treatment is symptomatic and supportive:
    • Adequate fluid intake, avoidance of respiratory irritants such as smoke, avoidance of acidic foods and beverages, soft diet, adequate rest, systemic analgesia Analgesia Methods of pain relief that may be used with or in place of analgesics. Anesthesiology: History and Basic Concepts, medicated lozenges, and throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy spray
  • Some patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship may require antibiotics for laboratory-documented bacterial pharyngitis:
    • Treat pharyngitis due to group A beta-hemolytic Streptococci with oral penicillin Penicillin Rheumatic Fever or amoxicillin Amoxicillin A broad-spectrum semisynthetic antibiotic similar to ampicillin except that its resistance to gastric acid permits higher serum levels with oral administration. Penicillins for 10 days (cephalexin if penicillin Penicillin Rheumatic Fever causes rash Rash Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever; clindamycin Clindamycin An antibacterial agent that is a semisynthetic analog of lincomycin. Lincosamides or macrolide if penicillin Penicillin Rheumatic Fever causes anaphylaxis Anaphylaxis An acute hypersensitivity reaction due to exposure to a previously encountered antigen. The reaction may include rapidly progressing urticaria, respiratory distress, vascular collapse, systemic shock, and death. Type I Hypersensitivity Reaction).
    • Timely treatment is crucial for the prevention of acute rheumatic fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever.
  • Viral pharyngitis is self-limiting Self-Limiting Meningitis in Children and resolves spontaneously and steadily within a few days without worsening.
  • If there is an underlying cause, identify and treat it (e.g., retroviral therapy for HIV HIV Anti-HIV Drugs, penicillin Penicillin Rheumatic Fever for Group A Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus, nystatin Nystatin Macrolide antifungal antibiotic complex produced by streptomyces noursei, s. Aureus, and other streptomyces species. The biologically active components of the complex are nystatin a1, a2, and a3. Polyenes for Candida Candida Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis, etc ETC The electron transport chain (ETC) sends electrons through a series of proteins, which generate an electrochemical proton gradient that produces energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Electron Transport Chain (ETC).).

Complications

Suppurative complications

  • Sinusitis Sinusitis Sinusitis refers to inflammation of the mucosal lining of the paranasal sinuses. The condition usually occurs concurrently with inflammation of the nasal mucosa (rhinitis), a condition known as rhinosinusitis. Acute sinusitis is due to an upper respiratory infection caused by a viral, bacterial, or fungal agent. Sinusitis
  • Otitis media
  • Epiglottitis Epiglottitis Epiglottitis (or “supraglottitis”) is an inflammation of the epiglottis and adjacent supraglottic structures. The majority of cases are caused by bacterial infection. Symptoms are rapid in onset and severe. Epiglottitis
  • Mastoiditis Mastoiditis Inflammation of the honeycomb-like mastoid bone in the skull just behind the ear. It is usually a complication of otitis media. Mumps Virus/Mumps
  • Peritonsillar abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease
  • Retropharyngeal abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease
  • Suppurative cervical lymphadenitis Lymphadenitis Inflammation of the lymph nodes. Peritonsillar Abscess
  • Pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia
  • Tonsillar cellulitis Cellulitis Cellulitis is a common infection caused by bacteria that affects the dermis and subcutaneous tissue of the skin. It is frequently caused by Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. The skin infection presents as an erythematous and edematous area with warmth and tenderness. Cellulitis
  • Necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis Necrotizing fasciitis is a life-threatening infection that causes rapid destruction and necrosis of the fascia and subcutaneous tissues. Patients may present with significant pain out of proportion to the presenting symptoms and rapidly progressive erythema of the affected area. Necrotizing Fasciitis
  • Streptococcal bacteremia Bacteremia The presence of viable bacteria circulating in the blood. Fever, chills, tachycardia, and tachypnea are common acute manifestations of bacteremia. The majority of cases are seen in already hospitalized patients, most of whom have underlying diseases or procedures which render their bloodstreams susceptible to invasion. Glycopeptides (rare)
  • Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis or brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease (extremely rare)

Non-suppurative Non-Suppurative Scarlet Fever complications

  • Airway Airway ABCDE Assessment obstruction
  • Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia occurs when the platelet count is < 150,000 per microliter. The normal range for platelets is usually 150,000-450,000/µL of whole blood. Thrombocytopenia can be a result of decreased production, increased destruction, or splenic sequestration of platelets. Patients are often asymptomatic until platelet counts are < 50,000/µL. Thrombocytopenia
  • Myocarditis Myocarditis Myocarditis is an inflammatory disease of the myocardium, which may occur alone or in association with a systemic process. There are numerous etiologies of myocarditis, but all lead to inflammation and myocyte injury, most often leading to signs and symptoms of heart failure. Myocarditis
  • Pericarditis Pericarditis Pericarditis is an inflammation of the pericardium, often with fluid accumulation. It can be caused by infection (often viral), myocardial infarction, drugs, malignancies, metabolic disorders, autoimmune disorders, or trauma. Acute, subacute, and chronic forms exist. Pericarditis
  • Encephalitis Encephalitis Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain parenchyma caused by an infection, usually viral. Encephalitis may present with mild symptoms such as headache, fever, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain or with severe symptoms such as seizures, altered consciousness, and paralysis. Encephalitis
  • Meningitis Meningitis Meningitis is inflammation of the meninges, the protective membranes of the brain, and spinal cord. The causes of meningitis are varied, with the most common being bacterial or viral infection. The classic presentation of meningitis is a triad of fever, altered mental status, and nuchal rigidity. Meningitis
  • Toxic shock syndrome Toxic Shock Syndrome Toxic shock syndrome (TSS) is an acute, multi-systemic disease caused by the toxin-producing bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. Staphylococcal TSS is more common and associated with tampons and nasal packing. Toxic Shock Syndrome
  • Acute rheumatic fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever
  • Acute inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy Guillain-Barré Syndrome
  • Poststreptococcal reactive arthritis Arthritis Acute or chronic inflammation of joints. Osteoarthritis
  • Acute glomerulonephritis Acute Glomerulonephritis Nephritic Syndrome in Children
  • PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease)

Differential Diagnosis

The following conditions are differential diagnoses of pharyngitis:

  • Epiglottitis Epiglottitis Epiglottitis (or “supraglottitis”) is an inflammation of the epiglottis and adjacent supraglottic structures. The majority of cases are caused by bacterial infection. Symptoms are rapid in onset and severe. Epiglottitis: an inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the epiglottis Epiglottis A thin leaf-shaped cartilage that is covered with laryngeal mucosa and situated posterior to the root of the tongue and hyoid bone. During swallowing, the epiglottis folds back over the larynx inlet thus prevents foods from entering the airway. Larynx: Anatomy caused by Haemophilus Haemophilus Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative coccobacilli, all of whose strains require at least 1 of 2 factors for growth (factor V [NAD] and factor X [heme]); therefore, it is most often isolated on chocolate agar, which can supply both factors. The pathogenic species are H. influenzae and H. ducreyi. Haemophilus, streptococcal, or staphylococcal infections Staphylococcal Infections Infections with bacteria of the genus staphylococcus. Glycopeptides, which manifests with difficulty in breathing, stridor Stridor Laryngomalacia and Tracheomalacia, and cyanosis Cyanosis A bluish or purplish discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes due to an increase in the amount of deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood or a structural defect in the hemoglobin molecule. Pulmonary Examination ultimately leading to death due to obstruction of airways
  • Laryngitis Laryngitis Laryngitis is an inflammation of the larynx most commonly due to infection or trauma that can be either acute or chronic. In this condition, the 2 folds of mucous membranes that make up the vocal cords become inflamed and irritated. The inflammation results in a distortion of the voice produced, resulting in a hoarse sound or aphonia. Laryngitis or laryngotracheitis: an inflammation Inflammation Inflammation is a complex set of responses to infection and injury involving leukocytes as the principal cellular mediators in the body’s defense against pathogenic organisms. Inflammation is also seen as a response to tissue injury in the process of wound healing. The 5 cardinal signs of inflammation are pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. Inflammation of the larynx Larynx The larynx, also commonly called the voice box, is a cylindrical space located in the neck at the level of the C3-C6 vertebrae. The major structures forming the framework of the larynx are the thyroid cartilage, cricoid cartilage, and epiglottis. The larynx serves to produce sound (phonation), conducts air to the trachea, and prevents large molecules from reaching the lungs. Larynx: Anatomy due to trauma or infection, among other causes. In this condition, the 2 folds of mucous membrane Mucous membrane An epithelium with mucus-secreting cells, such as goblet cells. It forms the lining of many body cavities, such as the digestive tract, the respiratory tract, and the reproductive tract. Mucosa, rich in blood and lymph vessels, comprises an inner epithelium, a middle layer (lamina propria) of loose connective tissue, and an outer layer (muscularis mucosae) of smooth muscle cells that separates the mucosa from submucosa. Barrett’s Esophagus that make up the vocal cords Vocal cords A pair of cone-shaped elastic mucous membrane projecting from the laryngeal wall and forming a narrow slit between them. Each contains a thickened free edge (vocal ligament) extending from the thyroid cartilage to the arytenoid cartilage, and a vocal muscle that shortens or relaxes the vocal cord to control sound production. Larynx: Anatomy become inflamed and irritated. 
  • Peritonsillar abscess Abscess Accumulation of purulent material in tissues, organs, or circumscribed spaces, usually associated with signs of infection. Chronic Granulomatous Disease: a deep neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess infection that commonly occurs in adolescents or young adults as a complication of acute tonsillitis Tonsillitis Tonsillitis is inflammation of the pharynx or pharyngeal tonsils, and therefore is also called pharyngitis. An infectious etiology in the setting of tonsillitis is referred to as infectious pharyngitis, which is caused by viruses (most common), bacteria, or fungi. Tonsillitis. Presents with fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, dysphagia Dysphagia Dysphagia is the subjective sensation of difficulty swallowing. Symptoms can range from a complete inability to swallow, to the sensation of solids or liquids becoming “stuck.” Dysphagia is classified as either oropharyngeal or esophageal, with esophageal dysphagia having 2 sub-types: functional and mechanical. Dysphagia, so-called “hot-potato” voice, and trismus Trismus Spasmodic contraction of the masseter muscle resulting in forceful jaw closure. This may be seen with a variety of diseases, including tetanus, as a complication of radiation therapy, trauma, or in association with neoplastic conditions. Tetanus
  • Candidiasis Candidiasis Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis: a fungal infection caused by Candida Candida Candida is a genus of dimorphic, opportunistic fungi. Candida albicans is part of the normal human flora and is the most common cause of candidiasis. The clinical presentation varies and can include localized mucocutaneous infections (e.g., oropharyngeal, esophageal, intertriginous, and vulvovaginal candidiasis) and invasive disease (e.g., candidemia, intraabdominal abscess, pericarditis, and meningitis). Candida/Candidiasis yeasts that can cause infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease deep within the body, affecting internal organs such as the kidney, heart, or brain Brain The part of central nervous system that is contained within the skull (cranium). Arising from the neural tube, the embryonic brain is comprised of three major parts including prosencephalon (the forebrain); mesencephalon (the midbrain); and rhombencephalon (the hindbrain). The developed brain consists of cerebrum; cerebellum; and other structures in the brain stem. Nervous System: Anatomy, Structure, and Classification
  • Diphtheria Diphtheria Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae that most often results in respiratory disease with membranous inflammation of the pharynx, sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and weakness. The hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of the throat. Diphtheria: a serious bacterial infection caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae Corynebacterium diphtheriae Diphtheria is an infectious disease caused by corynebacterium diphtheriae that most often results in respiratory disease with membranous inflammation of the pharynx, sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and weakness. The hallmark sign is a sheet of thick, gray material covering the back of the throat. Diphtheria that affects the mucous membranes in the nose Nose The nose is the human body’s primary organ of smell and functions as part of the upper respiratory system. The nose may be best known for inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide, but it also contributes to other important functions, such as tasting. The anatomy of the nose can be divided into the external nose and the nasal cavity. Nose and Nasal Cavity: Anatomy and throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, resulting in sore throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, fever Fever Fever is defined as a measured body temperature of at least 38°C (100.4°F). Fever is caused by circulating endogenous and/or exogenous pyrogens that increase levels of prostaglandin E2 in the hypothalamus. Fever is commonly associated with chills, rigors, sweating, and flushing of the skin. Fever, swollen glands (so much so that a “bull neck Neck The part of a human or animal body connecting the head to the rest of the body. Peritonsillar Abscess” is pathognomonic of this infection), and weakness
  • Croup Croup Croup, also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, is a disease most commonly caused by a viral infection that leads to severe inflammation of the upper airway. It usually presents in children < 5 years of age. Patients develop a hoarse, "seal-like" barking cough and inspiratory stridor. Croup: also called laryngotracheobronchitis Laryngotracheobronchitis Croup, also known as laryngotracheobronchitis, is a disease most commonly caused by a viral infection that leads to severe inflammation of the upper airway. It usually presents in children < 5 years of age. Patients develop a hoarse, "seal-like" barking cough and inspiratory stridor. Croup; caused most commonly by a viral infection or, rarely, by a bacterial infection that results in swelling Swelling Inflammation of the trachea Trachea The trachea is a tubular structure that forms part of the lower respiratory tract. The trachea is continuous superiorly with the larynx and inferiorly becomes the bronchial tree within the lungs. The trachea consists of a support frame of semicircular, or C-shaped, rings made out of hyaline cartilage and reinforced by collagenous connective tissue. Trachea: Anatomy and interferes with normal breathing
  • Gonorrhea Gonorrhea Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the gram-negative bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae (N. gonorrhoeae). Gonorrhea may be asymptomatic but commonly manifests as cervicitis or urethritis with less common presentations such as proctitis, conjunctivitis, or pharyngitis. Gonorrhea: a sexually transmitted disease Sexually Transmitted Disease Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are infections that spread either by vaginal intercourse, anal sex, or oral sex. Symptoms and signs may include vaginal discharge, penile discharge, dysuria, skin lesions (e.g., warts, ulcers) on or around the genitals, and pelvic pain. Some infections can lead to infertility and chronic debilitating disease. Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) that affects both genders, manifesting on the genitals, rectum Rectum The rectum and anal canal are the most terminal parts of the lower GI tract/large intestine that form a functional unit and control defecation. Fecal continence is maintained by several important anatomic structures including rectal folds, anal valves, the sling-like puborectalis muscle, and internal and external anal sphincters. Rectum and Anal Canal: Anatomy, and throat Throat The pharynx is a component of the digestive system that lies posterior to the nasal cavity, oral cavity, and larynx. The pharynx can be divided into the oropharynx, nasopharynx, and laryngopharynx. Pharyngeal muscles play an integral role in vital processes such as breathing, swallowing, and speaking. Pharynx: Anatomy, commonly affecting teens (15–24 years) who engage in vaginal, anal, or oral sex Sex The totality of characteristics of reproductive structure, functions, phenotype, and genotype, differentiating the male from the female organism. Gender Dysphoria
  • Pneumonia Pneumonia Pneumonia or pulmonary inflammation is an acute or chronic inflammation of lung tissue. Causes include infection with bacteria, viruses, or fungi. In more rare cases, pneumonia can also be caused through toxic triggers through inhalation of toxic substances, immunological processes, or in the course of radiotherapy. Pneumonia: an acute or chronic inflammation Chronic Inflammation Inflammation of lung tissue, which includes infection with bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology, viruses Viruses Minute infectious agents whose genomes are composed of DNA or RNA, but not both. They are characterized by a lack of independent metabolism and the inability to replicate outside living host cells. Virology, or fungi Fungi A kingdom of eukaryotic, heterotrophic organisms that live parasitically as saprobes, including mushrooms; yeasts; smuts, molds, etc. They reproduce either sexually or asexually, and have life cycles that range from simple to complex. Filamentous fungi, commonly known as molds, refer to those that grow as multicellular colonies. Mycology

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