How can I treat my child's sore throat?

The best thing you can do for a child with a sore throat is help soothe the pain. Sore throats are often caused by viral illnesses such as colds and flu, and these do not need antibiotic treatment. A cup of warm water with lemon and honey may help, as can gargling with warm salt water. Cool drinks or popsicles may also provide relief. You might offer your child a lozenge or an over-the-counter pain reliever, too.

If your child's sore throat persists after several days without getting any better, or if she or he also develops a fever, swollen lymph nodes, or a rash after the sore throat shows up, it's time to call the doctor.
  • If a virus or allergies is causing your child’s sore throat, an antibiotic
          will not help and could be harmful. This is why you must wait for
          the result of the quick test or throat culture to decide if your
          child needs an antibiotic.
  • If the throat culture shows Strep bacteria, your child’s doctor or care
          provider will call you within 24-48 hours and prescribe an
          antibiotic.
  • Wash your hands and your child’s hands often and well to help stop
          the spread of infection.

Your child’s doctor will talk with you about specific care for your child. Some general guidelines to follow include giving your child:

  • Soft foods and plenty of cool liquids to drink; Popsicles may also
          help.
  • Not making him eat foods if he wants only liquids.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol or less costly store brand) or ibuprofen
          (Motrin, Advil or less costly store brand) may be given for fever
          or pain. Follow the directions on the box carefully or ask your
          child’s doctor how much medicine to give.

        - Do not give your child more than 5 doses of acetaminophen in a             24-hour period.

        - Do not give acetaminophen to babies less than 3 months of age
           without talking with your child's doctor.

        - Do not give ibuprofen to babies less than 6 months of age without
           talking with your child's doctor.

  • Using throat lozenges (for children age 5 or older), sprays or salt
          water gargles, as advised by your child’s doctor for throat pain.

Continue Learning about Viral Throat Infections

Viral Throat Infections

Viral Throat Infections

Aside from strep throat, most sore throats caused by 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 causes symptoms that can last for weeks or months at a time. 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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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.