Pharyngitis?! Looks Like Strep -- Can I Treat or Must I Test?

Sarah Klemencic


AccessMedicine from McGraw-Hill 

In This Article


Pharyngitis is an extremely common complaint in primary care offices, urgent care clinics and emergency departments. This single complaint accounts for roughly 12 million annual visits.[1] The most feared, and blamed, cause of pharyngitis is Group A beta-hemolytic streptococci (GABHS); however it accounts for only 5-15% of acute pharyngitis in adults and 20-30% in children.[1,2] This bacterial infection is mostly seen in patients aged 5-15 years and in winter or early spring.[2] Viruses are, by far, the most common cause of acute pharyngitis.[1,2] It is very important to know how to diagnosis and treat acute pharyngitis and when to suspect GABHS. Overuse of antibiotics contributes to drug resistance and clinicians need to be able to rapidly and accurately differentiate between bacterial and viral pharyngitis in order to provide appropriate treatment. Based on the best available evidence, the Infectious Diseases Society of America has issued a new set of practice guidelines for diagnosing and treating GABHS.