What is Nasopharyngitis?

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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 12 January 2019
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Nasopharyngitis is an infectious, inflammatory condition that affects the throat and nasal passages. Individuals who contract this viral infection exhibit signs and symptoms that accompany acute viral rhinopharyngitis, or the common cold. Treatment generally involves the administration of over-the-counter (OTC) analgesic and decongestant medications. If left untreated, this condition can contribute to the development of more serious infections, including strep throat and bronchitis.

Everyone has experienced the patterned symptoms associated with the common cold. Most frequently caused by the rhinovirus, the illness is usually contracted through direct contact with an infected individual and contributes to the development of nasopharyngitis. Other viral infections that may trigger symptoms include influenza and certain presentations of the coronavirus. When such viral infections settle in the upper respiratory system, the nasal passages and throat are directly impacted.

Symptoms are easily recognized and diagnosed without tests, and these often include sneezing, coughing and malaise. This condition will characteristically induce inflammation and irritation of the throat and tonsils. The presence of infection in the upper respiratory system will also frequently trigger excess mucus production, congestion and discharge. In some cases, individuals with moderate to severe nasopharyngitis may develop a fever.


Children who are ill with this type of illness are often considered at an increased risk for developing secondary infection. It is not uncommon for children to experience more pronounced symptoms than adults and, generally, that means an increased risk for complications. The onset of additional symptoms, such as ear discomfort or chronic cough, may be signs of a secondary condition, such as ear infection or pneumonia. Parents should monitor their children for signs of excessively high fever, dehydration, and impaired respiration.

In the absence of a cure for the common cold and nasopharyngitis, treatment is centered on alleviating symptoms until the infection has run its course. Individuals can often find relief with OTC pain relievers, such as acetaminophen, that may alleviate throat discomfort and reduce fever. Decongestants, though not usually recommended for children, can ease an adult's nasal congestion by drying up excess mucus. Cough drops and syrups are frequently recommended to ease a sore throat, though the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that the use of such OTC drugs be closely monitored when given to children. Non-traditional treatments for the common cold may also include the use of warm compresses, gargling saltwater, and administering echinacea supplements and vitamin C.


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