Inflammation in the throat


From a sore throat (Pharyngitis, pharyngitis) is used when the mucous membranes of the throat become inflamed. This clinical picture is one of the most common health complaints that patients see a doctor about. In the winter months in particular, strep throat often occurs in connection with colds.

A strep throat can be caused by different pathogens and vary significantly in terms of its severity, intensity and duration. In addition, acute and chronic strep throat can be differentiated.


The most common cause of an acute strep throat is infection with the common cold virus. These include, for example Rhinoviruses, Adenoviruses, Coronavirus and Paramyxoviruses.

Such an infection is not uncommon, especially in winter, as the conditions for pathogens to multiply on the human mucous membranes are then particularly favorable. The cold, dry winter air leads to a reduced blood supply to the mucous membranes. The dry, warm heating air also dries them out. This allows viruses to colonize the more vulnerable mucous membranes better and to multiply in the mucous membrane cells. This also makes the mucous membranes more susceptible to bacterial infection, which in the worst case can occur in addition to the viral infection. In this case one speaks of a bacterial superinfection.

Read more on the topic: Inflammation in the throat

In most cases, the corresponding bacteria belong to the group of Streptococci. On the basis of certain symptoms, a distinction can be made between a viral and a bacterial strep throat (see below).

The chronic Sore throat has different causes than acute sore throat. A chronic strep throat is assumed if the symptoms persist for more than three months.

Possible causes for this are long-term excessive nicotine and / or alcohol consumption, as well as radiation or chemotherapy. These factors lead to long-term damage to the lining of the throat, which reacts with inflammation. Accordingly, pathogens are not the cause of a chronic strep throat. Rather, this form comes about through chronic damage to the mucous membranes by exogenous factors.

Another cause of chronic strep throat in women can be the onset of menopause. Changing the hormonal balance can lead to the mucous membranes drying out, which can lead to a chronic sore throat.

Read more on the topic: Causes of Sore Throat


For most pathogens, it is the case that they are particularly transmitted by droplet or smear infection. Especially in winter, when many people have a cold, cold viruses and bacteria are spread through coughs and sneezes in the air and people who have been healthy to date breathe them.
If the mucous membranes are already damaged, for example dried out by heating air that is too warm, the pathogens can adhere perfectly and trigger an infection.

Another way of infection is through contact with surfaces that are touched by many people, such as doorknobs, public toilets and public transport. For example, if sick people cough with their hands up and then grab the handrail in the bus, they can distribute their pathogens there. A healthy person next grabs the bar, has the pathogen by the hand, then grabs his face and the disease can be transmitted.

Read more on this topic at: Laryngitis - How Contagious Is It?


A strep throat usually manifests itself as a more or less severe sore throat, which, depending on the type of sore throat, can occur either on one or both sides. Often there are also difficulty swallowing. Depending on the severity, speaking also hurts.

At the onset of the disease, the throat often feels dry, itchy, or itchy. The patient has to keep clearing his throat. Even at the beginning of the disease, the symptoms can clearly disturb sleep. It is not uncommon for the sore throat to be accompanied by other cold symptoms, such as runny nose, cough and fever. Especially when the tonsils (Tonsils) are affected and swell, the language can sound clumsy. Sometimes patients also complain of earache.

When inspecting the throat area, reddened and swollen mucous membranes become apparent. If the sore throat is bacterial, white-yellow deposits - so-called pus sticks - are often visible in the throat area and on the tonsils. These can cause bad breath and do not occur in a purely viral sore throat. In a special form of strep throat, the so-called side cord angina, the side cords of the throat are also very red and swollen.

Read more on the topic: Pus in the throat

The symptoms of strep throat are often accompanied by a strong feeling of illness, fatigue, fatigue and loss of appetite.

Read more on the subject at:

  • Symptoms of a sore throat
  • Sore throat when swallowing
  • Scratchy throat

The tonsillitis

Tonsillitis (Angina tonsillaris, tonsillitis) is a purulent inflammation of the tonsils, either caused by viruses or bacteria. The patients typically have severe sore throats and difficulty swallowing, and a slight fever may also occur. At a bacterial caused tonsillitis should be treated with antibiotics, otherwise serious complications, such as rheumatic fever, can occur.

At a viral Angina is treated symptomatically with medication for the pain. In addition, the patient can use various home remedies, such as gargle solutions, to relieve the pain.

However, be careful with strongly acidic fruit, such as Oranges or pineapplebecause the Fruit acids aggravate pain on inflamed tonsils.

Purulent coating in the throat

Pus formation in a sore throat is usually an indication of an infection with bacteria and a purulent tonsillitis (Tonsillar angina). Typical pathogens are group A streptococci. When the mucous membrane of the throat is infected, an immune reaction occurs and the tonsils ulcerate. Purulent angina caused by bacteria must be treated with antibiotics, otherwise there is a risk of an abscess (Peritonsillar abscess) or the bacteria attack and damage the heart (rheumatic fever).

difficulties swallowing

Difficulty swallowing is a common symptom that accompanies a sore throat. The inflammation causes the lining of the throat to swell, hurt and cause problems when swallowing. With sufficient fluid intake, the mucous membrane is moistened and swallowing is easier. Also cold curd helps with swallowing difficulties. The quark is easy to swallow and cools the inflamed areas. Quark can also be used in the form of neck wraps to help ease swallowing difficulties.

More information can be found here: Pain when swallowing


An acute strep throat usually heals without complications. In some cases, however, complications can arise, particularly caused by bacterial infections.

  • A bacterial sore throat, for example, can spread to the larynx and the vocal cords and thus trigger an inflammation of the larynx or vocal cords (laryngitis).

​​​​​​​Further information on the subject is available at: Symptoms of laryngitis

  • It is also possible that the inflammation spreads to the mouth of the ear trumpet and that secondary otitis media develops as a result.
  • The pathogens can also migrate into the sinuses and frontal sinuses and cause sinusitis (inflammation of the sinuses) there.
  • Last but not least, the foci of inflammation can encapsulate and form circumscribed collections of pus in the tissue, so-called abscesses, which then often have to be surgically opened.
  • Young and active people in particular tend not to cure colds enough before they start exercising again. This can lead to the infection spreading and affecting the heart muscle. As a result, potentially life-threatening myocarditis can develop. It is therefore important to take care of yourself long enough and to pay attention to the weakened body and its need to heal.


The diagnosis of a sore throat can usually be made very easily by a family doctor or ear, nose and throat doctor: The patient's symptoms and an inspection of the mouth and throat make it clear what the patient is suffering from.

Conclusions about the respective pathogen can also be drawn on the basis of coatings in the throat area. If the doctor finds pus sticks, it can be assumed that the sore throat is bacterial.
However, there are also viruses that can cause characteristic deposits in the throat area. One example is the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), which causes Pfeiffer's glandular fever. This manifests itself in a severe sore throat with swelling of the tonsils, which are typically dirty-gray.

Diphtheria, too, triggered by that Corynebacterium diphteriae, is often already recognizable by the characteristic throat coating. This is yellow-whitish and can spread over the entire pharynx.

If it is necessary to determine the exact pathogen causing the strep throat, the doctor can take a swab from the inflamed mucous membrane and have it examined microbiologically. Targeted therapy can then be initiated. In the case of a common strep throat, however, this differentiation is usually not necessary.

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Therapy of strep throat

The treatment of strep throat depends on the underlying cause of the disease.

Therapy of viral strep throat

A viral Strep throat is usually treated symptomatically and heals as a result without complications. In addition, it is advisable to keep bed rest, dress warmly and drink a lot. Herbal teas are particularly suitable (for example sage and chamomile tea) as these have an anti-inflammatory effect. If possible, the drinks should not contain sugar. You should avoid very hot, very cold and carbonated drinks, as this will put additional strain on the mucous membranes.

Gargling with an ointment solution, however, can be helpful. If the pain is more severe, pain relievers can also be used (ibuprofen, paracetamol). Alternatively, throat sprays and lozenges with anesthetic effect are also available in the pharmacy, which can alleviate the symptoms. As a well-tried home remedy, some patients also use neck wraps.

Therapy of bacterial strep throat

A bacterial Sore throats must be treated with medication depending on the severity. In the case of a mild infection, as in the case of a viral strep throat, purely symptomatic therapy is recommended. However, if the throat and tonsils are severely suppurated, antibiotic therapy is usually unavoidable in order to avoid complications. are Streptococci the pathogens that caused the strep throat, penicillin is usually prescribed. It is important that the antibiotic is taken as directed by the doctor and that the therapy is not terminated prematurely without authorization, not even if the symptoms have already improved. Otherwise, the bacteria can germinate again and make the sore throat worse. In addition, premature discontinuation of therapy promotes the development of resistance in bacteria.

Therapy of chronic strep throat

For the treatment of chronic strep throat, it is often sufficient to avoid the causative factor if possible. This is best done in the case of sore throats, which are favored by nicotine or alcohol consumption. If the irritant effect of these substances on the mucous membranes ceases, the sore throat will usually heal within a very short time.

Chronic throat infections as part of chemotherapy or radiation therapy are usually unavoidable. Moistening the mucous membranes with lozenges or artificial saliva helps to alleviate the symptoms. Good oral hygiene should also be observed in order to avoid microbial infections of the previously damaged mucous membranes.

Read more on the topic: Sore throat - what to do

Should you rather cool or warm?

Many patients with a sore throat wonder whether it is better to cool or warm the throat. That depends primarily on the cause of the sore throat. In the case of sore throat caused by a viral or bacterial infection, the throat should be treated with heat. The throat mucous membrane is better supplied with blood through the warmth, as a result immune cells reach the inflammation site better and waste products are transported away faster. Warm tea and a scarf will keep your throat warm.

However, if the sore throat is caused by an allergy or irritation, e.g. Chemicals, it is better to cool your throat. Cold drinks or ice numb the irritated mucous membrane and relieve the pain.

These home remedies can help

Home remedies can help if you have a sore throat and pain when swallowing. The most important measure for a sore throat is to adequately (at least two liters per day) to drink. The fluid keeps the pharynx mucous membrane moist and the pathogens make it difficult to penetrate. With cold sore throat, patients should be best warm herbal teae.g. Chamomile, sage or mint tea, drink. The warmth also supports the blood circulation in the mucous membrane and the removal of pathogens. The tea can be sweetened with honey. Honey has a strong germicidal effect and is therefore considered a tried and tested home remedy for sore throats.

A less pleasant but still very effective home remedy is gargling with salt water. To do this, a teaspoon of salt is dissolved in a cup of warm water and gargled with the solution several times. This process can be repeated every few hours, but the salt water should if possible not swallowed become. Gargling with chamomile tea can also help with a sore throat. Chamomile has long been considered a medicinal plant and has anti-inflammatory and calming effects on irritated mucous membranes.

Various foods also have anti-inflammatory effects. Especially garlic and onion act against germs and support the healing of sore throats. Ginger in combination with fresh lemon juice is also used as a home remedy for a sore throat. It is best to cut the ginger into small pieces and pour boiling water over it before adding the lemon juice. The tea can also be sweetened with honey.

In order to get rid of the sore throat quickly, those affected must above all listen to their body feeling and take care of themselves. Exercise in the fresh air, a balanced diet and adequate sleep support the immune system and help fight inflammation.


Avoiding a sore throat is not always possible. The risk of infection is particularly high in the winter months when many people have a cold. A healthy lifestyle Adequate exercise and a healthy diet generally have a protective effect, as the immune system is strengthened in this way. Alcohol and cigarette smoking should be avoided, as these substances irritate the mucous membranes and make them more susceptible to inflammation.

However, these measures cannot always prevent infection. It is therefore advisable, after contact with other people or surfaces that are touched by many people (for example doorknobs, handrails in public transport), wash your hands thoroughly and hold your nose, mouth or eyes as little as possible. These are the preferred entry points for pathogens. '
In addition, avoid close contact with sick people, as cold viruses / bacteria are mainly transmitted from one person to another through droplet infection when coughing or sneezing. It can also be helpful to make sure that the rooms in which you are staying are not overheated. The heating air dries out the mucous membranes and makes them more susceptible to infections.
Make sure you have enough fresh air and enough sleep.


An acute strep throat that was caused by pathogens sounds in most cases even without specific therapy within three to five days from.
Complicated courses with abscess formation or the like that require further medical intervention rarely occur.

At bacterial strep throatthat require the use of antibiotics, it may take a little longer to fully resolve the disease. At the latest after two weeks however, the inflammation should have subsided.

Chronic sore throat after chemotherapy or radiation therapy usually improve on their own in the weeks after the end of therapy.

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