What is a side strand angina?

The lateral cordangina is a rarer special form of pharyngitis. It mainly affects the lymphatics in the side wall of the pharynx

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Seitenstrangangina - briefly explained

  • The lateral cord angina is a special form of pharyngitis.
  • Often it arises as part of a cold.
  • People who have had their tonsils removed are more likely to develop a lateral cord angina.
  • It affects the so-called side cords in the side of the pharynx. There is lymphoid tissue there. It ignites.
  • In addition to fever and a feeling of illness, frequent complaints are a sore throat that can radiate into the ear, swallowing pain and a feeling of lumpiness.
  • A lateral cord angina often heals on its own. In some cases, however, antibiotics are necessary.

What are the side strands?

Pathogens can enter the body through the mouth and nose. That is why there is a special defense tissue in the nasopharynx. It is said to protect the body from viruses and bacteria. Belong to this defense tissue

  • the two tonsils
  • the pharynx
  • the common almond
  • the side strands

The side cords run in the lateral area of ​​the back of the pharynx. They belong to the lymphatic tissue just like the tonsils.

The lymphatic tissue of the lateral cords is located on both sides in the back and sides of the throat. The approximate location is marked bluish

© ddp Images / Picture Press

How is a side strand angina formed?

The lateral cord angina often occurs as part of an infection, for example a cold. The pathogens are often viruses, but also bacteria such as pneumococci or streptococci.

People who have had their tonsils removed are often more prone to having a side strand angina. Because the tonsils do not have a protective function, pathogens can more easily penetrate the pharynx.

What symptoms suggest a side cord angina?

If the lateral cord angina is caused by a cold, typical cold signs may be present, for example runny nose.

Possible signs of a side cord angina are

  • Sore throat
  • Swallowing pain
  • Lumpy feeling
  • Exhaustion
  • fever
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck and jaw area
  • Reddening, swelling of the side of the pharynx, possibly with white coatings

Where do you feel pain with a lateral cord angina?

The lateral cord angina affects the lateral lymph vessels in the pharynx wall.Pain is therefore particularly noticeable laterally in the back of the throat.

The pain can also radiate into the ears. This ear pain is caused by the proximity of the side cords to the so-called Eustachian tube (ear trumpet) and the lymphatic tissue located there. The Eustachian tube forms the connection from the ear to the nasopharynx. A possible complication of the lateral cord angina is otitis media.

How long does a side strand angina last?

The duration of the illness depends on the cause and the accompanying circumstances. If an otherwise healthy adult has a lateral cord angina from a cold, it usually lasts one to two weeks if left untreated.

Is a Seitenstrangangina Contagious?

If the lateral cord angina is caused by a cold, it is contagious.

The pathogens can be passed on

  • when speaking, sneezing, coughing or kissing in the form of droplets of saliva (droplet infection)
  • via shared, contaminated surfaces such as door handles

The risk of infection often only diminishes when the symptoms disappear - that is, after about one to two weeks.

If bacteria are the trigger, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic. In this case, the risk of infection drops quickly after the start of therapy.

When to the doctor

With infants and young children, parents should generally see a doctor sooner rather than later.

If an otherwise healthy adult has a slight sore throat without any further symptoms, a doctor's visit is not always necessary.

A doctor should be consulted in the following cases:

  • in case of breathlessness (call an emergency doctor if necessary!)
  • if you have severe difficulty swallowing
  • with severe pain, earache
  • with increasing complaints
  • with further symptoms such as fever, fatigue
  • with previous illnesses
  • during pregnancy
  • if there is no improvement within a few days

It may be a bacterial infection. Then antibiotic therapy may be necessary.

If the disease is not treated in time, the pathogens can cause an abscess in the throat, especially in patients with weakened immune systems.


The doctor asks about symptoms and medical history and examines the mouth, nose and ears. Optical devices are used for this.

Most of the time, the side cords are swollen and reddened, possibly also covered.

With the help of a swab of the pharynx, which is rarely necessary, it is possible to find out which pathogens are causing the inflammation.

How is a lateral cord angina treated?

In some cases, antibiotics are needed to prevent an abscess or complications such as otitis media.

The inflammation is often caused by viruses. An antibiotic, however, does not help.

Affected should

  • take things easy
  • Drink enough to moisten the mucous membrane, lozenges can stimulate the flow of saliva
  • do not smoke

Some patients find warm or cool neck wraps beneficial.

Pain relievers such as ibuprofen help with severe pain. In the pharmacy there are also many anti-inflammatory and decongestant agents, such as throat sprays, lozenges or solutions for gargling, as well as herbal ingredients in various dosage forms that are supposed to have a soothing effect on sore throats. However, their effectiveness has not always been proven beyond doubt by scientific studies.

Important: Consult your doctor's practice or pharmacy for advice on the selection, use and dosage of suitable preparations and observe the package insert.

If properly treated, a lateral cord angina usually heals without complications.

Dr. med. Frank forest driver

© Sandra Stumpf

Consulting expert

Dr. med. Frank Waldfahrer, specialist in ear, nose and throat medicine, has been working as senior physician at the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, Head and Neck Surgery at the University Hospital Erlangen since 2002 (Director: Professor Dr. Dr. H. Iro).


Iro H: Pschyrembel online, Verlag Walter de Gruyter, https://www.pschyrembel.de/Seitenstrangangina/K0KPQ, as of January 2018 (accessed February 2020)

ENT doctors online, pharyngitis, https://www.hno-aerzte-im-netz.de/krankheiten/rachenentzuendung/definition-und-haeufigkeit.html (accessed in February 2020)

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace medical advice. Please understand that we do not answer individual questions

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