This clinical mind map is organized with differentials divided on the basis of relatively uncommon life-threatening conditions (on the right side of the clinical mind map in red color font) versus very common non-life-threatening conditions (on the left side of the clinical map in black color font).
Additional diagnoses that can cause throat pain are not listed in this clinical mind map, such as a reflex, pharyngeal mass, ulcer, and traumatic injuries. Non-life-threatening conditions are listed in the order of the more common to the less common. The mnemonic REDPIL is used to cluster life-threatening conditions. Infectious mononucleosis, which is included in the REDPIL diagnoses cluster, typically does not result in a life-threatening situation, but is included in this group because if this diagnosis is missed, the tonsils can get enlarged and cause airway compromise, and is also associated with enlarged spleen, which can rupture if caution is not used. One of the most common causes of sore throat is pharyngitis, which can be caused by a variety of agents listed next to pharyngitis on the clinical mind map. There is an age-related distribution of these agents, such that typically strep and Kawasaki affect children, mycoplasma, gonorrhea, and chlamydia affect adults, and viruses affect any age group. This age differentiation is not made clear on the clinical mind map due to space constraints but should be kept in mind. In addition to history, physical exam findings help establish the diagnosis, and sometimes lab tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis. Scenarios in which imaging plays a pivotal role in identifying life threatening situations is when one of the REDPIL diagnoses is suspected.