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Viral Pharyngitis


Viral pharyngitis is a sore, inflamed throat.

Sore Throat Due to Inflammation
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Viral pharyngitis is may be caused by one of several viruses. It often occurs with other viral infections, such as a common cold or the flu.

Risk Factors

Viral pharyngitis is more common in children and adolescents. Other factors that may increase your chance of viral pharyngitis include:

  • Living or working in crowded places, such as daycare centers or schools
  • Poor hygeine
  • Cigarette smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Allergies
  • Lowered immunity due to:


Viral pharyngitis may cause:

  • Sore, red, swollen throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Throat ulcerations
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck and behind the ears
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Rashes


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most viral sore throats are diagnosed based on the symptoms and an examination of the throat. Sometimes, the throat will be swabbed to make sure that the sore throat isn't due to a bacterial strep infection.


There are no treatments to cure viral pharyngitis. Most cases of viral pharyngitis heal on their own within about a week.

Treatments to relieve symptoms include:

Over-the-Counter Pain Medication

Sore throat pain can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Note: Aspirin is not recommended for children with a current or recent viral infection. Check with your doctor before giving your child aspirin.


You can relieve symptoms by:

  • Gargling with warm salt water can help relieve a sore throat.
  • Using throat lozenges.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids. Hot drinks and soups or cold fluids can be very soothing for a sore throat.
  • Using running a cool-mist humidifier. It can help keep your nasal passages moist and reduce congestion.


To help reduce your chance of viral pharyngitis:

  • Practice good hygiene, including careful hand washing.
  • Don't share food or beverages with other people.
  • Avoid areas where people are smoking.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: David Horn, MD
  • Review Date: 08/2015 -
  • Update Date: 09/30/2013 -
  • American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery


  • Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


  • The College of Family Physicians of Canada


  • Health Canada


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