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Pharyngitis in Children
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Pharyngitis, or sore throat, is inflammation of the tissues and structures in your child's pharynx (throat). Pharyngitis may be caused by a bacterial or viral infection.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your child suddenly has trouble breathing or turns blue.
- Your child has swelling or pain in his or her jaw.
- Your child has voice changes, or it is hard to understand his or her speech.
- Your child has a stiff neck.
- Your child is urinating less than usual or has fewer diapers than usual.
- Your child has increased weakness or fatigue.
- Your child has pain on one side of the throat that is much worse than the other side.
Contact your child's healthcare provider if:
- Your child's symptoms return or his symptoms do not get better or get worse.
- Your child has a rash. He or she may also have reddish cheeks and a red, swollen tongue.
- Your child has new ear pain, headaches, or pain around his or her eyes.
- Your child pauses in breathing when he or she sleeps.
- You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.
Your child may need any of the following:
- Acetaminophen decreases pain. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to give your child and how often to give it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If your child takes blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for him or her. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children under 6 months of age without direction from your child's healthcare provider.
- Antibiotics treat a bacterial infection.
- Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age. Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
- Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Manage your child's pharyngitis:
- Have your child rest as much as possible.
- Give your child plenty of liquids so he or she does not get dehydrated. Give your child liquids that are easy to swallow and will soothe his or her throat.
- Soothe your child's throat. If your child can gargle, give him or her ¼ of a teaspoon of salt mixed with 1 cup of warm water to gargle. If your child is 12 years or older, give him or her throat lozenges to help decrease throat pain.
- Use a cool mist humidifier to increase air moisture in your home. This may make it easier for your child to breathe and help decrease his or her cough.
Help prevent the spread of pharyngitis:
Wash your hands and your child's hands often. Keep your child away from other people while he or she is still contagious. Ask your child's healthcare provider how long your child is contagious. Do not let your child share food or drinks. Do not let your child share toys or pacifiers. Wash these items with soap and hot water.
When to return to school or daycare:
Your child may return to daycare or school when his or her symptoms go away.
Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's visits.
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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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