If you’re experiencing symptoms of pharyngitis, your doctor will look at your throat. They’ll check for any white or gray patches, swelling, and redness. Your doctor may also look in your ears and nose. To check for swollen lymph nodes, they will feel the sides of your neck.
If your doctor suspects that you have strep throat, they will likely take a throat culture. This involves using a cotton swab to take a sample of the secretions from your throat. Most doctors are able to do a rapid strep test in the office. This test will tell your doctor within a few minutes if the test is positive for streptococcus. In some cases, the swab is sent to a lab for further testing and results are not available for at least 24 hours.
If your doctor suspects another cause of your pharyngitis, they may order blood work. A small sample of blood from your arm or hand is drawn and then sent to a lab for testing. This test can determine whether you have mononucleosis. A complete blood count (CBC) test may be done to determine if you have another type of infection.
Home care and medication
If a virus is causing your pharyngitis, home care can help relieve symptoms. Home care includes:
drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
eating warm broth
gargling with warm salt water (1 teaspoon of salt per 8 ounces of water)
using a humidifier
resting until you feel better
For pain and fever relief, consider taking over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil). Throat lozenges may also be helpful in soothing a painful, scratchy throat.
Alternative remedies are sometimes used to treat pharyngitis. However, you should contact your doctor before using them to avoid drug interactions or other health complications. Some of the most commonly used herbs include:
In some cases, medical treatment is necessary for pharyngitis. This is especially the case if it’s caused by a bacterial infection. For such instances, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source (CDC), amoxicillin and penicillin are the most commonly prescribed treatments for strep throat. It’s important that you take the entire course of antibiotics to prevent the infection from returning or worsening. An entire course of these antibiotics usually lasts 7 to 10 days.
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
Most cases of pharyngitis can be successfully treated at home. However, there are some symptoms that require a doctor visit for further evaluation.You should see your doctor if:
you have had a sore throat for more than a week
you have a fever greater than 100.4°F
your lymph nodes are swollen
you develop a new rash
your symptoms do not improve after completing your full course of antibiotics
your symptoms return after completing your course of antibiotics