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First Aid: Sore Throat

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 also can be caused by a strep throat infection, although this is rare in children younger than 2 years old.

Signs and Symptoms

  • painful throat
  • fever
  • swollen glands in the neck
  • bad breath
  • scratchiness in the throat
  • redness in the back of the mouth

What to Do

Here are some ways kids can relieve sore throat pain:

  • sip warm liquids
  • eat cold or frozen liquids (such as ice pops)
  • gargle with saltwater
  • suck on hard candy or throat lozenges (for kids age 4 or older)
  • take ibuprofen or acetaminophen as needed

Seek Medical Care

If Your Child:

  • has difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • is drooling (in a young child)
  • tires easily
  • has pus in the back of the throat
  • has a sore throat that lasts longer than a week

Think Prevention!

As with most common illnesses, preventing a sore throat starts with regular hand washing. Kids also can avoid sore throats by:

  • not sharing food utensils and glasses with others
  • avoiding contact with people who have sore throats

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014