Sore Throat

A sore throat is usually a symptom of an illness.

Sore Throat in Children: Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment

  • Understanding sore throats: A sore throat is usually a sign your child's body is fighting an infection.

What causes sore throats in kids?

  • Viruses: The #1 cause. Colds, flu, and other viruses are often to blame. Look for fever, runny nose, and cough as clues.
  • Bacteria: Strep throat is the most common. It's contagious and needs antibiotics for a fast cure.
  • Irritants: Dry air, allergies, smoke, etc., can make a child's throat scratchy and uncomfortable.

How are sore throats diagnosed?

  • Pediatric exam: The doctor checks ears, throat, lymph nodes, and listens to breathing.
  • Strep tests: A quick swab or throat culture can confirm strep throat. This is important, as antibiotics won't help viral infections.

Treatment for sore throats: What helps?

  • Viral infections: Rest, fluids, over-the-counter pain relief (if age-appropriate). Sore throat often improves on its own within a few days.
  • Bacterial infections: Antibiotics are prescribed to fight the specific bacteria.
  • Soothing relief: Try warm liquids, cool-mist humidifier, throat lozenges (for older children only).

When to see the doctor for a sore throat

  • High fever or fever lasting longer than 24 hours
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sore throat without other cold/flu symptoms

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