A to Z Symptoms: Sore Throat

A to Z Symptoms: Sore Throat

A to Z Symptom: Sore Throat

May also be called: Tonsillitis; Strep Throat

More to Know

A sore throat can be caused by many things, from viral infections (most often, the common cold or flu) and bacterial infections (strep throat and some cases of tonsillitis) to seasonal allergies and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).

Causes

Many sore throats are due to:

Treatment

Treatment for a sore throat will depend on what's causing it. Treating an underlying condition (like GERD or allergies) can bring relief, as can home care (like gargling with saltwater, running a cool mist humidifier at night, and avoiding irritants like smoke).

Strep throat requires medical treatment with antibiotics, which will improve symptoms quickly. Untreated strep throat can lead to complications like rheumatic fever (which can cause permanent heart damage), a peritonsillar abscess, scarlet fever, or kidney disease.

Treatment for tonsillitis depends on whether it is caused by a virus or by bacteria. Doctors usually will test for strep bacteria with a rapid strep test or a throat culture. Tonsillitis caused by a virus will go away on its own. If it's caused by strep bacteria, the doctor probably will prescribe an antibiotic. If so, it's important to take all of the antibiotic for as long as prescribed to help prevent complications.

People with tonsillitis or strep throat can return to activities 24 hours after beginning antibiotic treatment if there's no fever and they're feeling better. If someone is still feeling weak, tired, or achy, staying home for another day or two is recommended.

Keep in Mind

To help prevent the spread of strep throat or tonsillitis to others:

All A to Z dictionary entries are regularly reviewed by KidsHealth medical experts.





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The mission of the CDC is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Call: (800) CDC-INFO
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) The AAP is committed to the health and well-being of infants, adolescents, and young adults. The website offers news articles and tips on health for families.
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.
Related Articles
Enlarged Adenoids Often, tonsils and adenoids are surgically removed at the same time. So, what are adenoids exactly?
Having Your Tonsils Taken Out Sometimes tonsils need to be removed, but how is it done? Find out in this article for kids.
Tonsillitis If your tonsils get infected, it can make your throat feel very sore. Find out more in this article for kids.
Sore Throat Instruction Sheet Sore throats are common at any age and can be one of the first signs of another illness, like a cold, the flu, or mononucleosis. They can also be cause by a strep throat infection, although this is rare in children younger than 2 years.
Strep Test: Throat Culture Is your child having a strep test or a throat culture? Find out how these swab tests are performed.
Strep Throat Strep throat is very common among kids and teens. It usually requires treatment with antibiotics, but improves in a few days.
Peritonsillar Abscess A peritonsillar abscess is an area of pus-filled tissue at the back of the mouth, next to one of the tonsils. Find out how it happens and what to do.
The Scoop on Strep Throat Strep throat gives you a sore throat and makes it hard to swallow. Find out more in this article for kids.
Tonsils and Tonsillectomies Everybody's heard of tonsils, but not everyone knows what tonsils do in the body or why they may need to be removed. Find out here.
Tonsils and Tonsillectomies Not everyone knows what tonsils do or why they may need to be removed. Knowing the facts can help alleviate the fears of both parents and kids facing a tonsillectomy.
Strep Throat Strep throat is a common infection that usually needs to be treated with antibiotics. Find out how to recognize the signs of strep throat and what to expect if you have it.
Tonsillitis You wake up and your throat is swollen and you have a fever. Could it be tonsillitis? Find out what tonsillitis is, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.
Enlarged Adenoids Often, tonsils and adenoids are surgically removed at the same time. Though some kids need surgery, enlarged adenoids are normal in others.
All About Adenoids Just what are adenoids? And why do kids sometimes have to get their adenoids removed? Get the answers here.
Tonsillitis Tonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils caused by an infection, causes sore throat, fever, swollen glands in the neck, and trouble swallowing.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter