Childhood illnesses can take its toll on the child and the parents as well. Knowing how to effectively treat your child when they get sick falls to the pediatrician primarily, but it can help you deal with the situation better if you understand what is causing your child’s illness and how it can be diagnosed and treated. A sore throat can be caused by a variety of triggers and its treatment will depend on discovering its root cause as well as how quickly it is diagnosed.
Common Causes for Sore Throat Pain
If your child develops a dry throat or complains of throat pain, it is most likely being caused by one of three distinct possibilities: a virus, bacteria, or by an allergic reaction. Allergies can account for a lot of illnesses in children and throat pain is usually an indicator that something in the environment, like dust, is causing the tissues inside the throat to swell. This is one of the many reasons that children should see their doctors as soon as they present any unusual symptoms, so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be given as soon as possible.
Throat pain is often a sign that your child has a viral infection, like that of the common cold or flu symptoms. Some viruses affect the adenoids, and could lead to illnesses like tonsillitis, so if your child presents any symptoms of throat pain, fever, runny or congested nose or tenderness inside their mouth, it is wise to take them to see their pediatrician as soon as possible for diagnosis.
A bacterial infection, on the other hand, is often more serious and can be quite debilitating to your child’s overall health. The most common bacterial infection involving the streptococcus bacterium can have symptoms involving a sore throat and fever of at least 100 or higher, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, headaches and a swelling of the glands of the neck. If your child has any of these symptoms, it is vitally important they receive treatment as soon as possible. Left untreated, more serious conditions such as rheumatic fever can develop, which can leave them struggling with a much longer recovery period.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Two tests can be done to determine what the root cause of the child’s throat pain. The first, known as the rapid test, is primarily used to check for the presence of viruses and the results come back fairly quickly. The doctor swabs the back and sides of the throat and then runs the test. Viruses can be normally treated with rest, lots of fluids and non-aspirin based pain relievers, like gargling solutions. Once the fever breaks and stays gone for at last 24 hours, the child can usually return to their normal routine.
If the rapid test comes back negative, most doctors will still swab again so that they can run a throat culture, to eliminate the possibility of a bacterial infection like strep throat. A throat culture usually takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours to fully develop and the bacterium can easily be identified from their growth in a Petri dish. If a bacterial infection is identified, then the child will be treated with antibiotics, fluids, non-aspirin based pain relievers and bed rest. Once the child has been successfully treated with antibiotics for at least 24 hours, they will no longer be considered contagious and may return to normal activities, like school.
Antibiotics are given to destroy the bacteria but will do nothing for the sore throat pain, which is what the milder pain relievers are for. Aspirin should never be given to any child under the age of 18, because of the documented risk of a more serious condition, like Reyes Syndrome, developing. Bed rest, fluids and frequent gargling will aid the other symptoms and help prevent dehydration from developing.