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Open Access Publications from the University of California

A 45-year-old Female with an Atypical Presentation of Pharyngitis

  • Author(s): Schander, Artur
  • Glickman, Andrew A.
  • Weber, Nancy
  • Rodgers, Brian
  • Carney, Michael B.
  • et al.

Introduction: Emergency physicians are trained to treat a variety of ailments in the emergency department (ED), some of which are emergent, while others are not. A common complaint seen in the ED is a sore throat. While most sore throats are easily diagnosed and treated, less common causes are often not considered in the differential diagnoses. Therefore, the purpose of this case study was to present an atypical case of sore throat and discuss differential diagnoses.

Case Presentation: The patient was a 45-year-old female who presented to the ED with a three-day history of sore throat that was exacerbated by eating and drinking. The patient was not on any prescription medications, but tried over-the-counter medications for the sore throat without any improvement in symptoms. Review of systems was positive for sore throat, fevers, and chills. Physical examination of her oropharynx revealed mildly dry mucous membranes with confluent plaques and white patchy ulcerative appearance involving the tongue, tonsils, hard palate, and soft palate. Rapid streptococcal antigen, mononucleosis spot test, and KOH test were performed and found to be negative.

Discussion: After initial testing was negative, a follow-up complete blood count with differential and complete metabolic profile were ordered. The patient was found to have decreased lymphocytes and platelets. Based upon those results, a diagnosis was made in the ED, the patient was started on medication, and further laboratory workup was ordered to confirm the diagnosis. ED providers should consider non-infectious as well as infectious causes for a sore throat, as this might lead to a diagnosis of an underlying condition.

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