Viral Throat Infections

Viral Throat Infections

If you have a sore throat, the most likely culprit of your symptoms is a virus. Unlike strep throat, which is caused by bacteria, most sore throats are contagious viral throat infections that cannot be treated with antibiotics. The most common culprits of a viral throat infection include coxsackievirus, mononucleosis, and the flu. Mononucleosis (mono) is a virus that lasts for quite some time, causing symptoms that last for weeks or months. The flu can also take some time to get over, as its severe symptoms also tend to last at least a week or more. Viral throat infections are best treated with rest, liquids and other home remedies. If the sore throat causes you to have trouble breathing or a high fever, or results in spots in the back of your throat, call your doctor.

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  • 1 Answer
    A

    Limited research shows that homeopathy may decrease tonsil swelling. Also, the need for surgery due to tonsil swelling may be reduced. More studies are needed.

    You should read product labels, and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider. Natural Standard information does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

    Copyright © 2012 by Natural Standard Research Collaboration. All Rights Reserved.

  • 1 Answer
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    ARealAge answered

    A viral sore throat cannot be treated with antibiotics. Viral sore throats usually go away on their own within three days. Besides a sore throat, symptoms of a viral infection may include a low-grade fever, a runny or stuffy nose and a slight cough. Mild sore throats also can accompany a cold or flu. Generally these are not serious conditions and can be treated at home.

  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    Home treatment usually is all that is needed to treat croup. You can help prevent major episodes, or attacks, as well as use techniques to manage attacks if they occur.

    Wash your hands often and keep your child away from others to help prevent spreading croup. Keep your child home from day care or school if he or she has croup.

    Preventing croup attacks

    You may be able to prevent croup attacks of intense troubled breathing and coughing. If your child has croup:

    • Offer plenty of fluids to drink. Always have water available and try offering other beverages, frozen ice treats (such as Popsicles), or crushed ice drinks several times each hour.
    • Do not smoke, especially in the house.
    • Consider using a humidifier in your child's room. Don't use a hot vaporizer, and make sure you put only plain water in the humidifier. Although research has not consistently shown that croup symptoms improve with humidifier use, using one poses very little risk. To prevent mold growth, be sure to empty, clean and completely dry out the humidifier between each use.
    Managing attacks of croup

    It is important for you and your child to keep calm during an attack of croup, even though it can be frightening. If your child is upset, crying and anxious, the swelling and narrowing of the airway can become worse. Usually, symptoms sound worse than they are.

    Taking measures to manage an episode of croup, such as adding moisture to the air and keeping your child calm and comfortable, can help keep symptoms under control. If coughing and difficulty breathing do not improve within about 30 minutes despite your efforts, call or see your child's doctor. Because attacks often occur in the middle of the night, you may need to visit the emergency room.

    Over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are not helpful for treating croup. These medicines may not be safe for young children. Before you give them to a child, check the label. If you do give these medicines to a child, always follow the directions about how much to give based on the childs age and weight.

    If your child has severe difficulty breathing, call 911 or other emergency services immediately.

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  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    Tonsillectomy for tonsillitis is generally used for children who have serious complications or recurrent infections that do not respond to other treatment, especially when they interfere with daily life. But tonsillectomy should only be done after you and your doctor carefully consider your child's medical history and overall health.

    Researchers in a recent study concluded that tonsillectomy may be no better than watchful waiting for children who have mild symptoms, which was defined as tonsillitis occurring fewer than 3 times a year.

    But for some children, tonsillectomy can greatly improve their quality of life. Children who are most likely to benefit from tonsillectomy are those who have:

    • 7 or more episodes of tonsillitis in 1 year, or 5 or more episodes a year for the past 2 years or 3 or more episodes a year for the past 3 years. Tonsillectomy is more likely to be considered as treatment when some of these episodes result in missing school, trouble sleeping or having other problems with normal daily life.
    • Tonsillitis lasting longer than 3 months, despite medicine.
    • Obstructed air passages.
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Difficulty talking because of nasal obstruction.
    • Tonsils that bleed heavily.

    Surgery choices

    Tonsillectomy for strep throat may be done in cases of recurring tonsillitis that do not respond to antibiotics or if an infection threatens the child's well-being.

    What to think about

    Tonsillectomy is still the most common major surgical procedure done on children in the United States. But it is not done as often as it was in the past.

    Upper respiratory infections and tonsillitis usually occur less frequently as a child gets older. Consider whether your child's tonsillitis infections are manageable until you can wait to see if he or she outgrows them.

    A child who has tonsillectomy will need special care and close monitoring for at least a week after the surgery. Consider your ability to provide this care for your child before deciding on tonsillectomy.

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  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    Call your doctor if any of the following occur.

    • Sore throat, along with any two of these signs of bacterial infection:
    • --Fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher
    • --White or yellow coating on the tonsils
    • --Swollen, tender tonsils
    • --Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
    • --Rash
    • --Abdominal (belly) pain and headache
    • --Severe pain
    • --Severe difficulty swallowing
    • --Pain on only one side of the throat
    • Tonsillitis or sore throat that starts after being exposed to someone who has strep throat.
    • 7 episodes of tonsillitis in 1 year despite treatment.
    • Persistent mouth-breathing, snoring or a very nasal- or muffled-sounding voice.
    • Signs of dehydration, such as a dry mouth and tongue and urinating less than normal.

    Watchful waiting

    Watchful waiting is a period of time during which you and your doctor observe your or your child's symptoms or condition without using medical treatment. Watchful waiting is appropriate if tonsillitis occurs along with cold symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and coughing. Tonsillitis with these symptoms is most often caused by a virus. Viral infection of the tonsils can be treated at home and in most cases goes away without treatment within 2 weeks. In general, the more like a cold the condition is, the less likely it is that the condition is caused by strep bacteria.

    Watchful waiting is not appropriate if tonsillitis occurs with a fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher or with swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and without symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. If these symptoms occur together, see a doctor. You may have strep throat, which should be treated promptly.

    Who to see

    Health professionals who can evaluate tonsillitis, perform quick tests or throat cultures and prescribe antibiotic treatment, if needed, include:

    • Pediatrician
    • Family medicine physician
    • Otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat, or ENT, doctor)
    • Nurse practitioner
    • Physician assistant
    • Internist
    If surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) is indicated, your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist (ear, nose and throat, or ENT, doctor).

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

  • 1 Answer
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    AHealthwise answered

    The goal of home treatment of tonsillitis caused by a virus is to manage symptoms as the body fights off the infection. Home treatment eases the discomfort of sore throat and symptoms such as runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing and coughing.

    Things that may help you or your child feel better include:

    • Gargling with warm salt water several times a day. You can make your own salt water by mixing 1 tsp (5 g) salt with 8 fl oz (240 mL) warm water.
    • Drinking warm or cool liquids (whichever feels better). These include tea, soup, juice, and rehydration drinks.
    • Eating flavored ice pops, such as Popsicles.
    • Taking over-the-counter pain medicines (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to help relieve sore throat pain. Follow all instructions on the label. If you give medicine to your baby, follow your doctor's advice about what amount to give. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20 because of its link to Reye syndrome, a serious but rare problem.
    • Getting plenty of rest.
    • Using a vaporizer or humidifier in the bedroom.
    • Using throat lozenges to help relieve sore throat symptoms. But lozenges should not be given to young children because of the risk of choking. Also, many lozenges contain unneeded ingredients that can be potentially harmful.

    Cough and cold medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use these medicines, check the label. Antiseptic mouthwashes, decongestants, and antihistamines have not been proved effective for tonsillitis and may result in harmful side effects.

    A sore throat along with sudden fever and swollen lymph nodes, and without symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection, may point to a bacterial infection. Anyone with these symptoms should see a doctor to be tested for strep throat, which requires treatment with antibiotics. It is important to get plenty of rest and take all the prescribed antibiotics exactly as directed. Keep your child home from school for the first 1 to 2 days of antibiotic treatment. He or she is still contagious during this time and might pass the infection to others.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

  • 1 Answer
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    ADiana Blythe, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of Pediatric Associates

    Tonsillitis is an infection or inflammation of the tonsils which is usually caused by a bacteria or virus. Sometimes streptococcus pyogenes,"Strep", is the bacterial cause of tonsillitis. Adenovirus and "Mononucleosis" (Epstein Barr) are two common viral causes. 

    If you have tonsillitis, please see your doctor to make sure you do not have a bacterial cause and need antibiotics. If the infection is Strep, antibiotics are needed to protect from scarlet fever and rheumatic heart disease. If the infection is viral, antibiotics will not help and your body will fight the virus. Either way, make sure you get rest and good nutrition.

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    AHealthwise answered
    Herpangina is a viral infection that causes sore throat and pus-filled sores on the throat, tongue, tonsils and roof of the mouth. The illness is not serious and often goes away in less than a week.

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  • 2 Answers
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    For children and adults, over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers, decongestants and saline nasal sprays may help relieve some symptoms of viral infections. Remember, always use over-the-counter products as directed. Many over-the-counter products are not recommended for children younger than certain ages.

    For a sore throat:
    • Soothe a sore throat with ice chips, sore throat spray, or lozenges (do not give lozenges to young children).
    • Use a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer.
    • Take acetaminophen, ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve pain or fever (check what is safe to give your child).
    The presence of the CDC logo and CDC content on this page should not be construed to imply endorsement by the US Government of any commercial products or services, or to replace the advice of a medical professional. The mark “CDC” is licensed under authority of the PHS.
    View All 2 Answers
  • 1 Answer
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    AJames Fortenberry, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

    Most children with croup can be cared for at home.

    Call 911 or your local ambulance service right away if your child:

    • Is so tired and weak that he hardly responds to you
    • Is working very hard to breathe or finds it hard to take a breath
    • Has a blue or dark purple color to the nail beds, lips or gums
    • Grunts when he breathes
    • Chest retractions (skin pulling in around the ribs when breathing)
    • Stops breathing for more than 10 seconds
    • Cannot speak while trying to breathe
    • Has any breathing problem that needs care right away

    Call your child’s doctor if your child:

    • Does not smile or show interest in play for at least a few minutes during any four-hour period
    • Is working hard to breathe
    • Is choking when being fed clear liquids, drooling or having trouble swallowing

    Also call if your child has:

    • A new fever since being seen by the doctor (temperature over 100.3°F)
    • New symptoms such as chest pain, wheezing or stomach pain
    • Problems taking the medicine ordered by his doctor
    • A cough that often wakes him up at night
    • A hoarse sound with every breath, even when he is resting quietly