Learn More About The 7 Most Common Sore Throat Ailments
Often the sore throat is severe, with pain on swallowing. Fever higher than 38 C or 100.5 F is common. The glands of the upper neck may be swollen and tender. Older children usually do not have a prominent cough or runny nose, but children under five years may have either or both. Headaches and stomachaches are not uncommon.
Figure 1. Beefy red soft palate and tiny red hemorrhages on the soft palate (not present in every case).
Figure 2. White or yellow patches on the tonsils and pillars. May appear as streaks or consolidated patches.
Figure 3. Examples of the white or yellow patches on the tonsils.
Find links to the other common sore throat ailments in our Sore Throat Guide at the bottom of the page.
A Normal Throat is pink rather than fire-engine red, and has no sores or ulcers. Size of tonsils will vary, but the tonsils will not be a very different color from the surrounding throat tissue.
Strep Throat look for a beefy red soft palate (a.) and uvula (b.), enlarged red tonsils (c.), white or yellow patches on the tonsils (d.), and tiny red hemorrhages on the soft palate (e.).
Most sore throats are caused by a virus, but about three of every ten children with sore throats actually have strep throat, which is caused by a bacterial infection. It occurs mostly in school-age children, is seen most often in winter and early spring, and is more likely to be seen in children who have had strep before or who have been in contact with someone who has it.
The bacteria that causes strep throat spreads easily between children through the air, by contact, and even by sharing objects. Though you may become immune to certain strains of the strep bacteria after being infected, there are so many strains that you cannot be immune to all.
The typical strep throat has a beefy red soft palate and uvula. There are often prominent white patches on the tonsils. The lymph glands ofthe upper neck may be enlarged and tender. Sometimes (though not usually) there is a pin-point pink-to-red rash that feels like fine sandpaper on the child's trunk. Your health provider can confirm the diagnosis of strep throat by performing a rapid antigen test, or a throat culture by swabbing your child's throat.
Though complications are unusual, they can be serious. One reason to treat strep throat with antibiotics is to avoid such complications, which can include Rheumatic Heart Disease, Rheumatic Fever, kidney disease, and abscesses in and near the tonsils.
Treatment usually involves oral antibiotics taken for ten days, though some circumstances may demand injectable antibiotics for part of the treatment. Antibiotics shorten the time your child will have symptoms, prevent complications and keep your child from spreading the infection. Some antibiotics may be given for less than ten days. Other treatments are aimed at reducing your child's throat pain, and include appropriate doses of Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. Hard candy, throat sprays and lozenges, salt water gargle and popsicles may help relieve discomfort.
Figure 4. Shows red soft and hard palate, red uvula, enlarged tonsils extending out of tonsillar pillars. Tonsils are also red with pus, however not obstructing the throat.