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Inflammation and infection (usually bacterial or viral) of the pharynx. Symptoms include pain (sore throat, worse on swallowing), redness, swollen lymph nodes, and fever. Throat culture may be the only way to distinguish infection with streptococcus bacteria (strep throat), which can cause rheumatic fever if not treated in time with antibiotics, from viral infections, which do not respond to antibiotics and require only symptom relief.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on pharyngitis, visit Britannica.com.