What are the symptoms and signs of pharyngitis?

Pharyngitis presents with:

  • A sore throat. This is the main symptom.
  • Pain on swallowing. Young children may refuse to eat.
  • Fever
  • Enlarged, tender cervical lymph nodes
  • Abdominal pain is common in young children
  • Mild cough

The symptoms usually disappear within 5 days.

On examination the throat is very red (inflamed). The mucus membrane of the back of the throat appears swollen and granular.

Often it is difficult to differentiate between pharyngitis and a common cold as the symptoms overlap. However, a sore throat without a blocked or runny nose suggests a pharyngitis.

A membrane on the pharyngeal mucosa suggests diphtheria. This is a rare infection as most children are immunised with DPT. Children with diphtheria are usually severely ill. Children with glandular fever may also have a membrane.

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