What to look out for
Your child’s sore throat is most likely caused by a viral infection. The child may – or may not – also have a runny nose, earache, sneezing, fever, a rash or a tickly cough. Sore throats are common and not usually serious.
Children and teenagers are more likely to get sore throats than adults. Most sore throats will go within three to seven days without the need for antibiotics. After a week, nearly nine in 10 children will be well again.
Occasionally, sore throats are caused by bacteria. This is known as strep throat. If your child gets a strep throat, they will usually feel sicker and take longer to get better. Some children with strep throat may need an antibiotic. A severe sore throat in teenagers may be caused by glandular fever.
Sometimes, children may complain of a sore throat when they actually have an ear infection or they may think they have an ear infection when they actually have a sore throat.
What can you do
Most sore throats can be treated at home. Talk to your pharmacist as over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can usually relieve the pain of a sore throat. Your child should also rest and avoid exercise to allow their body to heal.
Make sure they take plenty of cool or warm drinks, whichever they prefer. Offer them cool, soft food but don’t worry if they don’t want to eat. It is common for children not to eat when they are fighting a viral infection. As long as they are drinking plenty there is no need to worry.
Older children can suck lozenges, hard sweets, ice cubes or ice lollies.
When to seek help
Most children do not need to see a doctor for a sore throat as long as they are drinking well and are not drowsy. However, if your child still has a sore throat after two weeks or if they are feeling very unwell, it’s best to get them checked by your doctor.
Most children will get six to seven viral infections every year and a sore throat will usually be one of the symptoms. This is normal and does not mean that your child has a poor immune system. Children who have a lot of contact with other children, for instance in schools or crèches, get exposed to many infections. Fighting these infections actually boosts children’s immune systems.
To learn more about sore throats, click here.
As you can probably guess, this website can’t replace the advice you might get from a health professional. If you are worried about your child, please call or visit your GP or pharmacist.