Key Difference – Pharyngitis vs Tonsillitis
Pharyngitis and tonsillitis are quite common diseases that mainly affect children of school age. The key difference between pharyngitis and tonsillitis is that in pharyngitis, the inflammation occurs in the pharynx while in tonsillitis, the inflammation occurs in the tonsils.
In general, the inflammation of the throat is the basis of pharyngitis and tonsillitis; inflammation of pharynx and inflammation of tonsils respectively. Pharynx is a region in the throat that is posterior to the nasal and oral cavities and superior to the esophagus. Tonsils are a group of lymph tissues that are arranged to ensure the protection against harmful pathogens that can enter into the human body via the oropharyngeal route.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Pharyngitis
3. What is Tonsillitis
4. Similarities Between Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis
5. Side by Side Comparison – Pharyngitis vs Tonsillitis in Tabular Form
What is Pharyngitis?
The inflammation of pharynx is known as pharyngitis.
Viruses are the commonest cause of pharyngitis although bacteria and sometimes even fungi inflame the pharynx.
- When there is only a mild inflammation patient has a low-grade fever, malaise and some discomfort in the throat
- Moderate to severe infections are characterized by a headache, dysphagia, odynophagia, malaise and high fever.
- In very severe cases there can be edema of the soft palate and cervical lymph node enlargement.
The culture of throat swabs is helpful in identifying the bacterial causative agents of pharyngitis.
- Bed rest, increased fluid intake, gargling the throat with salt water and analgesics are the main components in the management of pharyngitis.
- When the symptoms do not disappear spontaneously antibiotics such as penicillin can be given. If the patient is allergic to penicillin, erythromycin can be prescribed.
What is Tonsillitis?
Tonsils consist of surface epithelium which is continuous with that of the oral cavity, crypts which are invaginations of the surface epithelium and lymph tissues. The inflammation of tonsils secondary to an infection is known as tonsillitis.
There are four main forms of tonsillitis as,
- Acute catarrhal tonsillitis – This mostly occurs due to a viral infection as a part of generalized pharyngitis.
- Acute follicular tonsillitis – Infection involving the crypts which get filled with pus.
- Acute parenchymatous tonsillitis – The tonsilar substance is affected and is characterized by the uniform enlargement of the tonsils.
- Acute membranous tonsillitis -Exudations from the crypts form a membrane on the surface of the tonsils.
Commonest causative agents are beta-hemolytic streptococci. Staphylococci, pneumococci, and Hemophilus can also cause tonsillitis.
- Sore throat
- Difficulty in swallowing
- The patient can have other nonspecific symptoms such as malaise, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
- Tender and enlarged lymph nodes
- The patient is advised to bed rest and consume high amounts of fluids
- Analgesics such as paracetamol are given to relieve the pain
- Antibiotic therapy
What are the Similarities Between Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis?
- Both conditions are associated with inflammation of the region which is known to the general public as the throat.
What is the Difference Between Pharyngitis and Tonsillitis?
Pharyngitis vs Tonsillitis
|The inflammation of pharynx is known as pharyngitis.||The inflammation of tonsils secondary to an infection is known as tonsillitis.|
|Viruses are the commonest cause of pharyngitis although bacteria and sometimes even fungi inflame the pharynx.||Commonest causative agents are beta-hemolytic streptococci. Staphylococci, pneumococci, and Hemophilus can also cause tonsillitis.|
|Degree of Branching|
Summary – Pharyngitis vs Tonsillitis
Pharyngitis and tonsillitis are extremely common diseases that mainly affect children. The principal difference between pharyngitis and tonsillitis is that in pharyngitis, the inflammation occurs in the pharynx but in tonsillitis, it is the tonsils that get inflamed.
1. Dhingra, P L. Diseases of Ear, Nose and Throat. Elsevier India, 2010.
1. “Pharyngitis” (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Blausen 0860 Tonsils&Throat Anatomy” By Blausen.com staff (2014). “Medical gallery of Blausen Medical 2014”. WikiJournal of Medicine 1 (2). DOI:10.15347/wjm/2014.010. ISSN 2002-4436. – งานของตัว (CC BY 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia