Sore Throat

Sore throat is one of the most common medical complaints of children. There are many causes of sore throats, including viral infection, bacterial infection, mouth breathing, and allergic states.

Colds, laryngitis, and croup are viral infections that are associated with a sore throat. Mononucleosis is a viral infection which causes fever, sore throat, and swollen glands. It is more common in adolescents. Viral infections do not require antibiotic treatment and are properly controlled by the body’s own defense mechanisms. The resulting sore throat is best managed by drinking cool liquids, getting plenty of rest and by taking acetaminophen (Tempra) for pain-relief.

A bacterial infection of the throat is almost always caused by the Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat is most common in the school-aged child and is seen less frequently in children under two years old. Symptoms may include sore throat, swollen glands, fever, headache, nausea, and abdominal pain. A red rough rash over the body may be associated with it as well. Accurate diagnosis by a Streptococcal antigen test or a throat culture is necessary for proper treatment to be prescribed. Untreated Strep throat may occasionally result in serious complications such as acute rheumatic fever.

Irritative or allergic nasal problems with associated postnasal drip may cause a sore throat. These symptoms can often be relieved by an antihistamine or decongestant (see Medications for the Home), or by avoidance of the offending allergic agent if it can be identified.

In general, a child with a mild sore throat, without fever and who otherwise feels well may be safely observed at home for a day or two and offered acetaminophen (Tylenol, Tempra) for pain relief. A child who is acting ill and has symptoms of Strep throat, as stated above, will require a medical evaluation.

Posted in: Pediatric Topics