Sore throat in children

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Causes of sore throat

Il sore throat it almost always is caused by viruses and it passes by itself in a few days, without the need for drugs. If there is a high fever (above 38,5 °), however, they can be administered acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Medicines that can be used even if the child complains of severe pain, because they also have a pain-relieving effect (it is however advisable to consult the pediatrician first). Do-it-yourself antibiotics, which are used only if the cause is bacterial, and not cortisone, which is necessary only in case of severe breathing difficulties, but not caused by common sore throats, should be avoided.

In about 70% of cases the sore throat is of viral origin, in a bacterial 30%. "The most common cause of sore throat is in fact the viral pharyngitis, which typically resolves in 3-5 days, while among the bacterial forms the streptococcal pharyngitis it is the most frequent and typically passes in 5-10 days, but after 48 hours of antibiotic therapy there is a breakdown ", points out Alberto Villani, head of general pediatrics and infectious diseases of the Bambino Gesù pediatric hospital in the city and president of the Society Del Paesena of pediatrics.


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Cold, cough, sore throat, earache and fever. Or vomiting and diarrhea. During the winter, children often get sick from influenza and non-influenza viruses. In most ...

Sore throat in children

Il sore throat is one of the most common ailments of the cold season, even if it is not so much the cold that causes it but the sudden changes in temperature, which cause an alteration of the mucous membrane of the mouth, favoring the entry of germs. This is why in reality, even in summer, children are subject to possible inflammation of the throat, due to the frequent passages from outside to inside - with air conditioning - which can therefore favor raucedine or pharyngitis, with lowering of the voice in the first case and, instead, difficulty in swallowing, redness and irritation between the nose and throat and fever, in case of nasopharyngitis.

In this article

  • Causes of sore throat
  • Sore throat: is a visit to the pediatrician always necessary?
  • When to do the throat swab
  • Treatments and medications for sore throat, what are they?
  • Tips for avoiding a sore throat
  • Nutrition for sore throats
Read also: Bronchitis in season

Sore throat: is a visit to the pediatrician always necessary?

Inflammation of the upper respiratory tract is one of the most frequent causes that induce parents to go to the pediatrician. But it is not always and above all not immediately necessary to do it. Essentially i associated symptoms: extent and persistence of fever, difficulty in breathing, presence of plaques.

"In general, therefore, it is advisable to go to the doctor if the child has the high fever, is very dejected (every child has a threshold of sensitivity to pain) and if there are any white plaques on the tonsils, because it could be bacterial pharyngitis and then it is appropriate to administer antibiotics "suggests Villani.

Otherwise, in the absence of associated symptoms, the child should be kept at home, at rest, treating the fever, if present and high, with one of the two drugs indicated - paracetamol (every 4-6 hours) or ibuprofen (every 6 hours). -8 hours) - to be used if necessary also to relieve the child's pain. And only if the fever persists after 48 hours despite the treatment is it necessary to seek medical attention.

Gianfranco Trapani, pediatrician, didactic director of the Higher School of Biotherapies SMB Del Paese, and author of numerous popular books, such as "The pediatrician in the drawer" (Ed. Giunti) states:

The presence of plaques does not necessarily mean that there is a bacterial infection, but only indicates maceration of the mucous membrane of the tonsil, which can also occur with viruses.


The pediatrician will tell you if the cause is viral or bacterial.

Read also: The child has a cold

Covid-19 or sore throat?

How to distinguish sore throat from Covid-19

I main symptoms of Covid-19 in the pediatric population are:

  • Temperature
  • Dry cough
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscular pains
  • Nasal congestion / runny nose
  • Breathing difficulties

Unfortunately, these are the same symptoms that are caused by the flu or other viral infections, which is why distinguishing the coronavirus from these diseases is difficult. The only one different symptom that can manifest itself in the case of coronavirus compared to other flu syndromes is the loss of taste and smell, but remember that Covid can also be totally asymptomatic.

When to do the throat swab

“The only form of pharyngitis that has real clinical relevance for any consequences is that caused by group A beta hemolytic streptococcus: in this case antibiotic therapy is necessary ". And to identify it it is necessary to do the throat swab.

“However, it makes no sense to do this to all children who have a little sore throat with no associated symptoms. But only if the child presents with a high fever, plaques on the tonsils and swollen lymph nodes under the throat or on the sides of the neck ”Villani points out.

“There are also viral forms, as a symptom of mononucleosis, for example, which cause the formation of plaques in the throat, but for which it makes no sense to give antibiotics. Which, in addition to being useless, can also be annoying: between 10-20% of patients with mononucleosis who take amoxicillin, for example, undergo skin reactions on the body ".

The throat swab is therefore a test to diagnose bacterial forms of sore throat.

The pediatrician can perform the "quick test", which allows diagnosis within minutes. Otherwise the traditional swab is performed in the analysis laboratories but for the result it is necessary to wait a few days.

Treatments and medications for sore throat, what are they?

  • If there is only pain and no fever. If the child only has a sore throat, nothing needs to be given, possibly some emollient tablets, for example with eucalyptol, which has a balsamic action on the respiratory tract, or a local spray, for example containing xibornol, which relieves the pain a little. But without the illusion that they are decisive. However, if the child is particularly suffering, even in the absence of fever, paracetamol or ibuprofen can be administered, which also have pain-relieving effects.

  • If the pain is very severe and fever also appears, an anti-inflammatory, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen, can be used. "Both have an anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and pain-relieving action, even if the antipyretic effect prevails in the paracetamol and the pain-relieving effect in the ibuprofen" says Trapani.
  • Antibiotic: only if the cause is bacterial. The antibiotic should only be given if the doctor ascertains, with the examination or with a throat swab, that the sore throat is caused by a bacterium, such as Streptococcus. If the cause is viral, the antibiotic is useless.

  • cortisone: NEVER for sore throat only. "Cortisone is a very powerful anti-inflammatory that can be used, on specific medical advice, if the child has a sense of suffocation or severe breathing difficulties, caused for example by an allergic reaction, but has nothing to do with a sore throat" continues Trapani.
Read also: Children's fever: everything moms should know

Tips for avoiding a sore throat

The main trick to avoid a sore throat is to lower the temperature of the radiators, both in homes and in schools: 19-20 degrees are ideal for protecting health, the environment and saving money.

"The house must be relatively cool and the children properly dressed, so when they leave the passage is less abrupt. And then you have to get the children used to going out, even when it is cold or damp: the cold does not hurt if the children are well covered, the excessive heat in closed environments hurts more, "suggests Trapani.

In both winter and summer, however, it is important to avoid sudden changes in temperature.

"But it is useful to remember - adds Villani - also the importance of active prevention, where possible and desirable, of upper respiratory tract infections through interventions of primary prophylaxis such as flu vaccination in the categories of patients at risk and their families ".

Nutrition for sore throats

When the child has a sore throat and especially in case of swallowing difficulties, Villani suggests the consumption of fresh and soft foods, for example milk or smoothies, and advises to avoid citrus fruits or tomatoes, because they can be irritating and annoying in case of presence. of canker sores in the mouth. Otherwise, a good orange juice can be very useful for the supply of vitamin C (possibly evaluate with the pediatrician the administration of a multivitamin supplement). In general, the pediatrician remembers, the consumption of fruit is good for the supply of vitamins with antiviral effects. "It is important - he also reiterates - that the child drinks a lot because he must be well hydrated".

Trapani finally recalls the phytotherapeutic remedies, useful for stimulating the immune defenses to counteract the germs responsible for sore throats. The most suitable are dog rose, black currant, vine (Vitis vinifera), walnut (Juglans regia). They are found in pharmacies in various formulations: glycerin macerates, phytoembry extracts (the acronym is FEE), much more concentrated, or the most recent hydroenzymatic extracts (the acronym is EIE), which have the advantage that the active ingredients are extracted with water. and enzymes, so they are alcohol-free. Since these are different preparations, it is necessary to ask the pharmacist for the most suitable dose according to the age and weight of the child.Bound

Watch the video: colds in young children

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