How to soothe a sore throat

A sore throat is common childhood complaint but they can be serious and don’t always include other symptoms, so when your kids complain of a sore throat, you need to act.

What is a sore throat?

Sore throats are usually caused by viral infections.

If any of the following symptoms are experienced, see a doctor.

  • A sore throat that lasts more than a few days
  • Inability to swallow
  • Swollen or coated tonsils
  • Excessive dribbling
  • A high temperature (above 39°C) (in babies under three months, see a doctor if they have even a mild temperature)
  • Enlarged tender glands in the neck
  • Earache or joint pain.

Strep Throat and Rheumatic Fever

Some sore throats are caused by Streptococcus bacteria (strep throat) and this can lead to rheumatic fever which can cause heart damage, it is important a strep throat / rheumatic fever is treated with antibiotics so see a doctor.

The Ministry of Health advises that “If your child is Māori or Pacific, aged 4 to 19 years, lives in certain parts of the North Island and has a sore throat, please get it checked straight away. They are at risk of a serious but preventable illness called rheumatic fever. Call Healthline 0800 611 116 if you are unsure what you should do.”

Strep throat and scarlet fever

Strep throat, combined with a rough, red, skin rash, is scarlet fever. This can also lead to rheumatic fever, infections and pneumonia so see a doctor if you observe these symptoms.

Treatment for viral sore throats

A viral infection cannot be beaten with antibiotics. In most cases, dealing with a sore throat is more about making the patient comfortable while the body fights the viral infections. Lozenges from the supermarket or pharmacy may help relieve some of the unpleasant symptoms.

Other ways to ease the pain are:

  • Take pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (consult a doctor of pharmacist)
  • Gargling with warm salty water
  • Using a humidifier
  • Regular sips of water
  • Ice blocks
  • Warm water with a little honey or sucking on half a teaspoon of honey

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