Pharyngitis In Children


Pharyngitis In Children (Aftercare Instructions) Care Guide

Pharyngitis is also called sore throat. It is an inflammation (swelling) or infection of the tissues and structures in your child's pharynx (throat). Symptoms of pharyngitis, such as a fever or trouble swallowing, may be mild or severe. Your child may have pharyngitis many times a year. The germs that cause pharyngitis spread easily from person to person in schools, daycare centers, work, and at home. Pharyngitis usually gets better without treatment within a few days.


Follow up with your child's primary healthcare provider as directed:

Write down any questions you have so you remember to ask them in follow-up visits.


  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are over-the-counter medicines that are given to decrease pain and fever. Ask your child's primary healthcare provider what medicine to give your child, and how much and how often to give it. Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child may develop a very serious illness called Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin when he is ill. Read medicine labels to see if your child's medicine has aspirin in it.

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotic (germ-killing) medicine may be needed if bacteria are causing your child's pharyngitis. Give your child this medicine as directed by his primary healthcare provider. Have your child take the antibiotics until they are gone, even if he feels better.

  • Steroids: Steroid medicine may be given to reduce swelling in your child's throat.

  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Contact your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not helping or if he has side effects. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when and why he takes them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits.

Care for your child at home:

  • Rest: Have your child rest as much as possible.

  • Increase liquids: Give your child liquids so that he does not get dehydrated. Give him liquids that are easy to swallow and will soothe his throat.

  • Sore throat relief: If your child is 12 years or older, give him throat lozenges or hard candy to help decrease his throat pain. If your child can gargle, give him one-quarter of a teaspoon of salt mixed in 1 cup of warm water to gargle.

  • Add humidity: Your child may breathe more easily after he breathes in mist or steam. You may want to use a steam or cool mist vaporizer in your child's room. Ask caregivers how often and what to use to clean the device. You may run a hot water shower to make steam in the bathroom. Close the bathroom door and sit with your child near the shower as he breathes in the steam. Do not put your child in the hot shower.

Help prevent the spread of pharyngitis:

Wash your hands and your child's hands often. Keep your child away from other people while he is still contagious. Ask your child's primary healthcare provider how long your child is contagious. If your child is taking antibiotics, he should not share food or drinks until he has taken all the doses of antibiotics. Do not let your child share toys or pacifiers. Wash these items with soap and hot water.

When to return to school or daycare:

If your child has started antibiotics, ask his primary healthcare provider when he may return to school or daycare. If your child is not on antibiotics, his symptoms such as fever or sore throat may go away on their own. When his symptoms go away, your child may return to school or daycare.

Contact your child's primary healthcare provider if:

  • Your child's symptoms, such as throat pain, trouble swallowing, or fever, are not getting better or are getting worse.

  • Your child has a bumpy, rough rash on his body. He also has reddish cheeks and a red, swollen tongue.

  • Your child snores or pauses in his breathing when he sleeps.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child suddenly has trouble breathing or swallowing, turns blue, or drools.

  • Your child has voice changes, or it is hard to understand his speech.

  • Your child has increased swelling or pain in his jaw area, or he has trouble opening his mouth.

  • Your child has a stiff neck.

  • Your child has not urinated in 12 hours or is weak and tired.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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