Sore throat (pharyngitis)

Sore throat (pharyngitis)

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Acute and chronic throat catarrh

If the pharynx is inflamed, this can cause uncomfortable swallowing difficulties, scratching and pain in the throat as well as accompanying symptoms such as fever or headache. In most cases, pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat) is a rather harmless disease, but it is also possible to develop a chronic clinical picture that entails increased risks of secondary diseases.


Pharyngitis (inflammation of the throat) describes a partial or complete inflammation of the pharynx mucosa. Alternatively, the term pharyngeal catarrh is used. A distinction can also be made between acute and chronic pharyngitis and occasionally an additional differentiation was made according to the forms of pharyngitis. Here, for example, laryngopharyngitis (inflammation of the pharynx and larynx) and the lateral strandangina form noteworthy subtypes of pharyngitis.

Symptoms of sore throat

The inflammation causes swelling and redness in the pharynx, tongue coating and a viscous to purulent secretion is formed. Sufferers complain of symptoms such as a feeling of soreness with scratching and burning in the throat area, throat pain, painful swallowing problems that can radiate into the ears, and intense thirst. Headaches and fever can also occur, which should be a reason to visit a doctor. This also applies if the acute symptoms do not subside after three days.


Acute pharyngitis usually arises during an infection in the area of ​​the upper respiratory tract, with viruses, but sometimes bacteria, being the triggers. In addition, mechanical damage, strong heat, dust, chemical substances such as irritating gases, chlorine, nitrates or certain medications can be mentioned as possible triggers of acute inflammation.

Chronic pharyngitis is usually less painful and without a fever. It often affects people who have to speak or sing a lot because of work or those who generally have an increased susceptibility to infections, especially in the area of ​​the upper respiratory tract.


The diagnosis of sore throat is usually relatively easy to make on the basis of the symptoms that occur and a medical examination of the mouth and throat area. Laboratory examination of a smear can sometimes provide information about the causative agents (bacteria or viruses). A blood test may also be appropriate to rule out underlying diseases such as measles or rubella.


Treatment must always take into account the avoidance of possible irritants in the professional and domestic environment. This includes heavy dust pollution as well as the consumption of nicotine and alcohol. In addition, a ban on speaking with bed rest, plenty of drinking and an appropriate diet (possibly porridge, soup or other liquid food) is often helpful in the first few days.

Targeted drug treatment with antibiotics is possible for bacterial infections. However, no corresponding preparations are available against viral infections. However, strong symptoms such as pain or fever can be treated with appropriate medication if necessary.


Naturopathy offers numerous options for treating pharyngitis, with herbal medicine being of particular importance. For example, various tea preparations are available here that have an anti-inflammatory effect and promote healing. Gargling with the appropriate medicinal plant tea is also helpful for acute throat infections. Sage tea, chamomile tea or tea from Odermennig are often used for this. A one percent saline solution is also suitable for gargling.

Lozenges and candies stimulate the flow of saliva and keep the mucous membranes moist, which can have a positive effect on healing. However, these should definitely be sugar-free and the rule of thumb for the ingredients often applies: less is more. Special antibiotic agents or the like are usually superfluous, especially since the inflammation is usually caused by viruses.

In chronic pharyngitis, general measures to strengthen the immune system are often used in naturopathic treatment, since increased susceptibility to infection can be the cause of repeated throat infections. Preventive gurgling with Odermennig is also an option and regular nasal douches can also reduce the susceptibility to infections in the nasopharynx area. (jvs, fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Jeanette Viñals Stein, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch


  • German Professional Association of Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists: Throat inflammation (accessed: August 13, 2019), hno-aerzte-im-netz.de
  • Austria's public health portal: Throat inflammation (accessed: August 13, 2019), gesundheit.gv.at
  • Lenarz, Thomas / Boenninghaus, Hans-Georg: Otorhinolaryngology, Springer, 14th edition, 2012
  • Harvard Health Publishing: Sore Throat (Pharyngitis) (accessed: August 13, 2019), health.harvard.edu
  • Vincent, Miriam T. / Celestin, Nadhia / Hussain, Aneela N.: Pharyngitis, Am Fam Physician, 2004, aafp.org
  • Mayo Clinic: Sore throat (accessed: August 13, 2019), mayoclinic.org

ICD codes for this disease: B08, J00, J02, J31ICD codes are internationally valid encryption codes for medical diagnoses. You can find e.g. in doctor's letters or on disability certificates.

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