A sore throat is a very common occurrence in childhood. It can be a symptom of another illness such as colds, flu, or mononucleosis. In some cases, it can also be a cause of a problem that may need medical attention. This includes strep throat, stomatitis, ingestion, or retropharyngeal abscess.
How to tell if a sore throat is caused by a cold or something else?
If your child’s sore throat is due to a cold, it can be accompanied by other symptoms such as cough, runny nose, loss of appetite, and possibly, sore ears.
If it’s because of the flu, your child may also experience some aches and pains.
Sore throat in kids older than three years old is more likely due to streptococcal infection (strep throat in kids younger than that is rare). If it’s a strep infection, your child may also experience swollen red tonsils with white spots, swollen neck glands, and a rash.
What to do when your child has a sore throat?
Here are some things you can do to make your child more comfortable when having a sore throat:
- Provide cold liquids or food.
This includes popsicles, Jell-O, or even ice cream. If your child doesn’t want to eat, provide small sips of cold fluid at a time.
- Avoid spicy, salty, or acidic food if your child has mouth sores.
Spicy, salty, acidic, and foods that are sharp (e.g. chips) can only worsen your child’s mouth sores.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
You can temporarily relieve the discomfort by giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Check with your child’s doctor for the right dosage.
- Keep the throat moist.
Aside from small sips of fluids, you can also keep your child’s throat moist by using a humidifier.
When to see a specialist?
You should see a specialist immediately if your child’s sore throat is accompanied by:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Difficulty in swallowing especially when he/she is drooling
- Stiff neck
- High fever (102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) that doesn’t go down even with acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Refusal to drink
- Severe pain
- Severe drowsiness (difficult to wake up)
- Rash, headache, stomachache, or vomiting
Greater Knoxville ENT has specialists who can assess your child’s throat condition. To request an appointment, you may call us at (865) 521-8050.