Is pharyngitis contagious?

by Sharon Hopkins

Pharyngitis is in fact a contagious infection. It is an infection of the throat or the pharynx, and is usually caused by a bacteria or virus. Sometimes pharyngitis can also be caused by chemical or other irritants. Simply observing the throat alone cannot identify the cause of pharyngitis. A throat swab helps identification better. The pharynx is that part of the throat between the voice box and the tonsils. It tends to be very susceptible to infections, and prolonged infection in the pharynx can also lead to ear and nose infections. Pharyngitis is also known as 'sore throat' and this includes strep that all fall under the same umbrella of infections.

These infections are contagious and can be passed on by touch or by using personal items of the infected person. Even a sneeze or a cough by an infected person can pass on this infection. The typical contagious period for pharyngitis is about 48 to 72 hours. The way to judge whether the infectious period has passed is by waiting for certain symptoms to ease. When the fever breaks or the person gets relief from the pain, the infection has passed.

Most bacterial pharyngitis is caused by the streptococcus bacteria and is quite contagious. Strep throat is caused by these bacteria. The symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Red and inflamed throats
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Difficulty swallowing

One of the main differences in symptoms between bacterial and viral pharyngitis is that with viral pharyngitis, you will also see symptoms of a regular cold and flu. If those symptoms are missing, you might have a bacterial pharyngitis. The influenza virus causes the most common form of viral pharyngitis. Let's look at some symptoms of viral pharyngitis:

  • Muscle aches
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Chills
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Difficulty swallowing

Usually, treatment for viral pharyngitis entails rest and house-based care like salt water gargles and throat lozenges. You can also try broths or decoctions made from licorice, sage, basil and pepper. Hygiene is very important during the recovery process for pharyngitis. The patient should not share utensils or items of hygiene with other people till he has completely recovered.

An attack of acute pharyngitis usually occurs after prolonged colds or coughs. Acute pharyngitis is also contagious and takes about 48 hours to clear out on its own. For quick recovery, it is also important that you avoid talking or putting unnecessary pressure on your throat. Stay hydrated as this will help in better and faster healing.


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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