What is nasopharyngitis?
Nasopharyngitis is commonly known as a cold. Doctors use the term nasopharyngitis specifically to refer to swelling of the nasal passages and the back of the throat. Your doctor may also refer to this as an upper respiratory infection or rhinitis.
A virus or bacteria can cause nasopharyngitis. It can spread through tiny air droplets that are expelled when a person infected with the virus:
- Blows their nose
You can also catch the virus or bacteria by touching an object that’s contaminated with the virus, such as a doorknob, toy, or phone, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. The virus or bacteria can rapidly spread in any group setting, such as an office, classroom, or daycare center.
How common is nasopharyngitis?
Nasopharyngitis is extremely common. It commonly affects more females than males. It can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of nasopharyngitis?
Symptoms will usually appear within one to three days of getting infected. Symptoms may last from one week to 10 days, but they can last longer. Common symptoms of nasopharyngitis include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sore or scratchy throat
- Watery or itchy eyes
- Body aches
- Low fever
- Post-nasal drip
The symptoms may be irritating or painful, but they do not typically cause you lasting harm.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes nasopharyngitis?
Rhinovirus is the most common cold-causing virus. It’s highly contagious. More than 100 other viruses can cause colds.
What increases my risk for nasopharyngitis?
Babies and children have a higher risk for colds. School children are especially at risk because the virus is so easily spread. Being in close contact with someone who has a cold will put you at risk. Any group situation where one or more people have colds can also put you at risk. That includes:
- Your office
- Your gym
- A sports event
- A party
- A crowded subway or bus
People with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk for viral nasopharyngitis. If you have a weakened immune system, wash your hands more often and avoid rubbing your eyes after touching doorknobs or other surfaces that may be contaminated.
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is nasopharyngitis diagnosed?
To diagnose your cold, your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms. They will also perform a physical examination. Your doctor may look at your nose, throat, and ears. They may swab them to collect a sample to test for possible bacterial infection or influenza. Your doctor may also feel your lymph nodes to see if they’re swollen and listen to your lungs while you breath to determine if they’re filled with fluid.
If your nasopharyngitis keeps coming back, your doctor may refer you to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist for more tests.
How is nasopharyngitis treated?
Viral nasopharyngitis can’t be cured with antibiotics. Instead, your doctor will focus on treating your symptoms. Your symptoms should gradually improve in a few days with rest and plenty of fluids. Your doctor may suggest some over-the-counter remedies to relieve pain and help lessen symptoms.
- The following over-the-counter medications may be used to treat adults:
- Decongestants, like pseudoephedrine (sudafed)
- Decongestants combined with antihistamines (benadryl d, claritin d)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin or ibuprofen (advil, motrin)
- Mucus thinners, like guaifenesin (mucinex)
- Lozenges to soothe a sore throat
- Cough suppressant for severe cough, such as dextromethorphan (robitussin, zicam, delsym) or codeine
- Zinc supplements, which should be taken at the first sign of symptoms
- Nasal spray, such as fluticasone propionate (flonase)
- Antiviral medication if you have an infection with influenza
Treatment in children
Some treatments that are appropriate for an adult may not be used in children. If your child has a cold, your doctor may recommend any of the following:
- Vapor run, such as vicks vaporub
- Saline nasal spray
- Zinc sulfate syrup
Ask your child’s pediatrician about dosage.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage nasopharyngitis?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with nasopharyngitis:
- Home remedies
- In addition to over-the-counter medications, you can try several home remedies.
- Use a humidifier or vaporizer, or breathe in steam from hot water or a shower, to help relieve congestion.
- Eat chicken soup.
- Dissolve ½ teaspoon of salt in warm water and gargle it. This can help relieve the pain from a sore throat.
- Add honey to warm water to help soothe a sore throat. Don’t give honey to children under 1 year old.
- Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
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