Pharyngitis is the medical term for inflammation of the throat. Primarily characterized by redness, swelling and discomfort, most cases of pharyngitis are caused by bacteria or a virus. Bacterial infections can be treated with antibiotics. Viral infections tend to go away on their own. Most sore throats will improve or clear up within five to seven days. On occasion, some cases of pharyngitis persist, despite treatment. These cases are considered to be chronic.
Symptoms of Chronic Pharyngitis
Common symptoms of chronic pharyngitis are a persistent red, swollen throat. This may be occasionally combined with a fever or pus, depending on the cause of the infection. There is pain when talking, swallowing and breathing. Symptoms often persist beyond a week in duration. Or they may go away and return.
Medical Causes of Chronic Throat Inflammation
Chronic throat inflammation can be caused by a virulent strain of bacteria that does not respond well to antibiotics. It can also be caused by recurrent viral infections. People who tend to breathe solely through their mouths can irritate the back of the throat. Drainage from allergic rhinitis or postnasal drip also irritates the throat. Occasionally, chronic throat inflammation can be caused by TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. The disorder occurs when the temporomandibular joint (the part of the jaw where the lower jaw meets the upper jaw) becomes somewhat displaced, causing pain and popping when chewing, yawning and sometimes talking. Irritation can radiate to the throat. Diseases such as HIV and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) also tend to cause chronic throat inflammation.
Environmental Causes of Chronic Pharyngitis
Smoking, pollution, dry air, other airborne irritants and environmental allergens can cause chronic sore throat. Smokeless tobacco also irritates the throat. A diet high in alcohol and spicy foods can cause chronic pharyngitis.
The doctor performs an examination and does some tests to try to determine the cause of the chronic sore throat. In the event of a persistent bacterial infection, he may prescribe a stronger antibiotic. Allergy medications may relieve some drainage and postnasal drip. For other causes, lifestyle changes and home remedies are recommended.
Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water and clear fluids. Drink warm broth. Mix honey and lemon into hot water to drink, to coat the throat and cut through the mucus. Eat Jell-O. Gargle with salt water. Use throat lozenges or hard candy to stimulate fluid secretions in the mouth.
Keep air humidified indoors. Eliminate allergens from the home. Quit smoking or tobacco use. Avoid alcohol and spicy foods. Stop using chemicals and stay indoors on days of high pollution.