Sore throat in kids

Sore throat in kids… it STREP???

The most likely cause of a child's sore throat depends upon the child's age, the season, and the geographic area. While viruses are the most common cause of sore throat, bacteria are another common cause. Bacteria and viruses are spread from one person to another through hand contact. Hands get contaminated when the sick individual touches their nose or mouth and then touches another person directly (hand-to-hand contact) or indirectly (hand-to-object, such as doorknob, telephone, toys).

It is difficult to determine the cause of sore throat based upon symptoms alone; an examination and laboratory test are recommended in most cases.

Here are some differences and similarities between viral sore throat and STREP.

  • Viral:

    • runny nose and congestion

    • irritation or redness of the eyes

    • cough

    • hoarseness

    • soreness in the roof of the mouth

    • a skin rash

    • diarrhea

    • children with viral infections may have a fever and may feel miserable. A high fever does not necessarily mean that the child has a bacterial infection.

  • Strep Throat

    • children older than three years often develop symptoms suddenly and include

        • fever (temperature  greater than 100.4ºF)

        • headache

        • abdominal pain

        • nausea & vomiting.

        • Other symptoms can include swollen glands in the neck

        • white patches of pus in the back or sides of the throat

        • small red spots on the roof of the mouth

        • swelling of the uvula (hangy ball in back of throat)

    • Strep throat is uncommon in children younger than age two to three years. However, strep infection can occur in younger children and may cause:

      • runny nose and congestion that is prolonged

      • low-grade fever (les than 101ºF)

      • tender glands in the neck

      • Infants younger than one year may be fussy and have a decreased appetite and low-grade fever

It is best to be checked out by your health care provider if -

  • The temperature is 101ºF or greater

  • Season is late fall, winter, or early spring

  • The child does not have a cough

  • Child's age is between 5 and 15 years

  • Recent exposure to someone with strep throat

  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

  • Child's voice sounds muffled

  • Stiff neck or difficulty opening the mouth

  • Parent has questions or concerns about child's symptoms