Sore Throat & Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is when the tonsils are swollen mostly due to infection. This can be viral or bacterial. Take your child to the doctor if he or she has a bad sore throat. Some sore throats that aren’t treated can lead to other problems like abscesses, kidney problems, or rheumatic heart disease. The doctor may take a throat culture to find out what is wrong. The doctor may give your child antibiotics if the sore throat is from strep or some other bacteria.

Signs, Symptoms & Causes

There are 2 kinds of sore throats:

•  Bacterial sore throats usually cause a high fever, headaches, or swollen neck glands. But sometimes children with bacterial sore throats have no other problems. Strep throat is one kind of bacterial sore throat. Antibiotics can help cure a bacterial sore throat.

•  Viral sore throats are more common. They may or may not cause the same problems as a bacterial sore throat. You can’t cure a viral sore throat with antibiotics.


Try these tips for your child’s sore throat pain:

•  Have your child gargle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt in 1/2 cup of warm water. Do this every few hours. Only do this with children over 6 years old.

•  Give your child warm drinks like tea and soup. The tea can be plain or with honey. (Don’t give honey to a baby under 1 year old.)

•  For strep throat, give cold foods and liquids, like popsicles and frozen yogurt.

•  Keep your child away from secondhand smoke.

•  Use a cool-mist vaporizer in the room where your child spends most of the time. Clean it every day. Use distilled (not tap) water.

•  Feed your child foods that are soft and/or cold. The food should be easy to swallow. Don’t give your child spicy foods.

•  Have your child suck on a piece of hard candy or a cough drop if he or she is 5 or more years old. You can give corn syrup to a younger child.

•  For pain and fever give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Make sure to give the right kind and dose for his or her weight. (Note: Do not give aspirin. Aspirin and other medicines that have salicylates have been linked to Reye’s Syndrome.)

•  Don’t use throat sprays. Some throat sprays have benzocaine. Benzocaine bothers some children.

This website is not meant to substitute for expert medical advice or treatment. Follow your doctor’s or health care provider’s advice if it differs from what is given in this guide.


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