How to soothe a sore throat

Soothing sore throats

Children can get twice as many sore throats as adults, with 6-8 episodes a year, compared to 2-3 episodes a year for adults. Sore throats 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?

95% of sore throats in children below 5 years and 70% of sore throats in children 5-16 years are caused by viruses.

The two most common types of sore throat are:

  • A razor blade sore throat – Though not a medical term, this type of sore throat is often caused by an infection.  Symptoms include a swollen, tender sore throat that feels like swallowing razor blades. This can be very distressing for children so don’t let this sore throat linger, if only to make them more comfortable. It is worth a trip to the doctor.
  • A dry, scratchy sore throat – This sore throat can come with clicking in the ears when swallowing. This type of sore throat can be a sign of a sinus or ear irritation.


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 infection.

Lozenges are a soothing relief for sore throats. Special children’s lozenges have antibacterial agents to help kill bacteria that can cause sore throats and mouth infections. Plus they come in yummy child-friendly flavours.

Other ways to ease some of the pain are:

  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Using a humidifier
  • Regular sips of water
  • Ice blocks
  • Warm water with a little honey

When to see a doctor about your child’s sore throat

Get your doctor’s advice if your child’s sore throat suddenly becomes worse, or if any of the following symptoms appear:

  • Excessive dribbling
  • Inability to swallow
  • Difficulty breathing
  • A new skin rash or bruising
  • Increased snoring when asleep, or stopping breathing when asleep
  • Enlarging tender glands in the neck
  • Extreme tiredness or drowsiness


Sources for article include Lindbaek M et al. Scand J Prim Health Care 2006: 24:93-97, Worrall. Can Fam Phys 2007: 53:1961-2, and Thompson A, et. Al. 

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