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What is Chronic Pharyngitis?

Mary McMahon
Updated: Mar 03, 2024

Chronic pharyngitis is a sore throat that persists for an extended period of time. Patients can develop this condition as a result of recurrent acute pharyngitis, where infections come and go within the span of about a week and keeping coming back. It can also occur in response to chronic inflammation caused by alcohol abuse, overuse of the voice, and cigarettes. Treatments for this condition vary, depending on the underlying cause.

In a patient with chronic pharyngitis, the throat remains irritated and sore for an extended period of time, and it may be punctuated by periodic flareups when the throat hurts even more than usual. The throat often appears red, raw, and swollen. Some patients cough and experience other symptoms, and hoarseness is very common. Fever, runny nose, and a general feeling of malaise are sometimes observed in people with persistent sore throats.

Immediate treatment can include anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the swelling in the throat and make the patient more comfortable, along with antibiotic or antiviral medications to kill infectious organisms in the throat. Warm water gargles and salt water rinses are sometimes used in the management of a sore throat, along with lozenges designed to relieve irritation and pain. The patient will be evaluated for lifestyle factors, and some of these may be addressed in treatment as well; for example, a smoker will be advised to cut back on smoking or quit entirely.

Singers who develop chronic pharyngitis will generally be advised to see a vocal coach once the irritation and pain have resolved. The coach can work with the singer to develop the voice and prevent future injuries to the throat. Some singers develop poor habits over time and risk their voices by singing without warming up or by pushing their voices beyond their normal range. Working with a singing coach can help singers avoid common pitfalls and reduce the risk of permanent damage to the voice.

People who experience recurrent sore throats, even if they don't develop chronic pharyngitis, may be evaluated to see if there is an underlying cause. Sore throats are often a sign of immune dysfunction, as normally the immune system should be robust enough to prevent throat infections. This can indicate that a patient has an underlying medical problem. Certain chronic illnesses are associated with soreness in and around the throat and patients may be evaluated for these conditions if they frequently complain of sore throats and do not seem to experience an improvement on medications like antibiotics.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By ZipLine — On Mar 19, 2013

@SarahGen-- Yes, removing the tonsils does put an end to chronic pharyngitis. It did in my case anyway.

By stoneMason — On Mar 19, 2013

I think that everything goes back to the immune system. I have chronic pharyngitis, but I also have chronic sinus infections and my throat acts up at the same time my sinuses do. When I take medications for my sinuses, my throat feels better as well.

Taking antibiotics often doesn't help either. Bacteria are getting immune to the antibiotics and it gets harder and harder to treat my sinus, throat and ear infections. I need to find ways to naturally strengthen my immune system.

By SarahGen — On Mar 18, 2013

My daughter has chronic pharyngitis. Her doctor is not finding anything wrong with her otherwise. He suggested last week that we have her tonsils removed. Apparently, removing tonsils eliminate most cases of chronic pharyngitis.

Has anyone here had their tonsils removed for this reason? Is it really a cure for chronic sore throat?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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