Nasopharyngitis is one of the most common ailments in the fall and winter season. How to recognize and treat it? Interview with Dr. Richard Handschuh, general practitioner in the Paris region.
What is nasopharyngitis?
As the doctor explains: “The nasopharyngitis (or common cold) is an inflammation or infection of the nasopharynx. This organ is located at the back of the mouth, after the pillars of the tonsil and thealuette. It is at the confluence of the nasopharynx (the airways that come from the nose) and the oropharynx (the organ that joins the mouth and nose)“.
What is the cause of nasopharyngitis?
This common, benign inflammation is essentially viral. “They are usually seasonal viruses.“, says Dr. Handschuh.
Can we have a rhino in the summer? It mostly occurs in the fall and winter, although it is possible to get sick all year round.
What are the symptoms of this ENT infection?
The most common symptoms are:
- A runny nose.
- Itchy throat.
- Of the fatigue.
Fever sometimes occurs, accompanied by headache.
Does she cough?
There is no coughbecause the infection does not descend into the lungs.
Why do the symptoms intensify in the evening?
It is particularly the cold that increases at the end of the day. “When you are at rest, the respiratory flows are reduced and therefore the secretions accumulate“says the general practitioner.
How long does nasopharyngitis last?
The duration of symptoms is variable, but they usually last only a few days.
Is she contagious?
Nasopharyngitis is indeed a contagious disease. It is transmitted directly, via saliva or postilions, or indirectly, by touching a soiled object.
It is therefore appropriate for patients to avoid any risk of transmission, by:
- Avoiding contact with fragile people.
- Wearing a mask when in contact with other people.
- Frequently washing your hands with soap or hydroalcoholic gel.
- Airing your home regularly.
- Disinfecting the most frequently touched surfaces in a home, such as doorknobs or light switches.
Pharyngitis, laryngitis, angina or rhino… How do you know?
The autumn-winter period is prone to the development of many infections that affect the nose, throat or ears.
However, nasophraryngitis differs from other ENT infections, such as:
- Pure rhinitis (or cold), the inflammation of which only affects the nose.
- Pharyngitis, which only affects the pharynx, and is accompanied by coughing and sore throat.
- Laryngitis, which breaks the voice.
- Angina, because the infection then also affects the tonsils.
Rhino or covid, how to tell the difference?
It is more difficult to distinguish the symptoms of nasopharyngitis from those of covid, although there are often “a bit of coughing and sneezing” for the latter, as specified by the practitioner.
This is why he recommends wearing a mask in public when you have a runny nose in order to avoid transmitting the infection, whatever its nature.
How to treat nasopharyngitis?
This pathology is benign and disappears on its own in a few days. It is recommended to regularly clean the nose with saline solution to clear the passages and treat this infection more quickly.
It is possible to also take paracetamol, in case of fever or pain.
What alternative medicine remedies can relieve this disease?
Lhomeopathy is not discouraged, but essential oils should be avoided for questions of allergy risks.
To relieve sore throats, it is possible to take honey, an antiseptic and a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be consumed directly or as an infusion with lemon, rich in vitamin C, and/or thyme, which also has antiseptic properties.
However, honey is strongly discouraged for children under 1 year old, because of the risk of botulism.
It is especially important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet, so that the body can react quickly and effectively to the evils of winter.
Do we need antibiotics?
“There is no need to treat this pathology with antibiotics”, says Dr. Handschuh. Indeed, this disease is of viral origin, and therefore does not require such treatment. On the contrary, taking it could even lead to resistance to these drugs (a phenomenon also called “antibiotic resistance”).
Can there be complications? When to consult?
There are no complications directly related to nasopharyngitis.
However, as Dr. Handschuh points out: “The virus can migrate from there and colonize another part”. Nasopharyngitis can thus, for example, trigger laryngitis, if the infection extends into the larynx.
It is advisable to consult your doctor when the symptoms last over time, worsen or when new signs appear, because they could then hide another infection. This is particularly the case when:
- A high fever.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Pain in one ear, even a discharge from it.
- Intense headaches.
If you have a chronic pathology, such as asthma or diabetes, do not hesitate to consult a health professional in any case.
Baby rhino: what to do?
Nasopharyngitis is also a benign pathology for young children. Its treatment is the same as for adults. It is necessary to regularly wash the nose of the baby, and to blow it. It is also possible to administer paracetamol in case of fever.
To relieve runny nose, you can raise the head of the bed and humidify the environment of his room.
However, do not hesitate to go see a doctor if you have any doubts or concerns about cold symptoms in babies. In addition, it is absolutely necessary to consult when an infant under one month has a fever or a runny nose.
Nasopharyngitis is thus a common and benign pathology, which passes by itself in a few days and does not require systematic consultation. To treat it, it is recommended to regularly rinse the nose with saline, and to treat fever and headaches if necessary with paracetamol. However, in case of doubt or prolonged symptoms, do not hesitate to seek advice from a doctor.