Sore Throat: Brief Version
What is a sore throat?
Viruses that cause colds cause most sore throats. Strep bacteria causes some sore throats. Your doctor may take a throat culture to find out if the sore throat is caused by a virus or strep.
Your older child can tell you if he has a sore throat. A younger child may have a sore throat if he cries when he eats. Or your child may not eat. Your child's tonsils may also be red and swollen.
How can I take care of my child?
- Help the throat feel better.
If your child is over age 1, give warm chicken broth or apple juice.
Children over age 64 can suck on hard candy or lollipops to make the throat feel better. Children over age 8 can also gargle with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt per glass).
- Give a soft diet.
If your child has a sore throat, some foods can be hard to swallow. Cold drinks and milkshakes are good. Do not give your child salty or spicy foods or citrus fruits.
- Give pain medicine.
Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) for the sore throat or for a fever. No aspirin.
Call your doctor right away if:
- Your child drools or has a hard time swallowing.
- It is hard for your child to breathe.
- Your child acts very sick.
Call your child's doctor during office hours if:
- Your child has a sore throat for more than 48 hours.
- Your child has a fever and no other cold symptoms.
- You think your child may need a Strep test.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-08-13
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes
available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical
evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.