A bacterial infection in the throat is usually treated with a regimen of antibiotics and self-care remedies. Some may opt to alleviate the inflammation and throat pain of a bacterial infection with oral anesthetics, such as throat lozenges, and analgesic pain relievers. The type and duration of treatment depends on the cause and severity of the infection.
Microorganisms such as Group A streptococcus, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Chlamydia pneumonia can cause a bacterial infection from which pharyngitis can develop. Pharyngitis is the inflammation of the throat between the tonsils and larynx. A sore throat accompanied by fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, joint and muscle pain is characteristic of bacterial pharyngitis.
In many cases Group A streptococcus can cause a potentially serious throat infection called strep throat. Patients should be tested to determine the cause of the symptoms they are experiencing. Once the type of a bacterial infection in the throat has been identified, a health care professional will usually prescribe medication to kill the infection.
Bacterial pharyngitis is usually treated with one of three types of antibiotics: penicillin, cephalosporins or macrolides. A derivative of penicillin, amoxicillin is one of the more frequently prescribed antibiotics for bacterial infections because it is effective and inexpensive. Cephalosporins and macrolides are used as alternatives to penicillin and its derivatives. Macrolide antibiotics such as azithromycin are prescribed for those who have a penicillin allergy. Antibiotics are usually administered for five to ten days, but the length of treatment might vary depending on the severity of the infection.
Along with antibiotics, many patients choose to employ self-care remedies to help treat the infection and its symptoms. Popular home remedies include gargling with warm salt water or with an antimicrobial mouthwash. Salt water may be the better alternative for some as it relieves pain and removes irritants. Many mouthwashes can cause further irritation and discomfort to an already painful throat.
Oral anesthetics and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications are generally effective at treating pain and inflammation, as well as reducing the fever associated with bacterial infections of the throat. The effects are temporary, which means medications must be continuously administered over the course of the infection. Oral anesthetics can be found in various forms including cough drops, throat lozenges and sprays. OTC medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen are effective pain and fever reducers. Another option for pain relief and healing is herbal tea, which often includes throat-soothing ingredients such as licorice and honey.