Sore Throat Or Strep – That Is The Question

There is nothing worse than a child waking up in the middle of the night: sick, and complaining of a sore throat. Whenever this happens, rather than take the child into their doctor immediately, most parents try treating them at home first, with children’s aspirin or cough syrup. While this may not do any harm to your child, it is still a good idea that they see their doctor, because there is a very real chance that it is not simply be sore throat pain that you are dealing with.

A sore throat is a common symptom for a host of childhood and adult diseases. Allergies, bacterial infections and viral diseases all have this common symptom. But how can a parent tell the difference, and how can they know when it is far more serious than it appears? The quick fix is to just bundle the kid into the car and take them to their doctor or an immediate care facility. But, a little knowledge could go a long way to you being able to understand what your child is going through, and how best to make them feel better before you can get them to a doctor.

Common throat pain will go away on its own, and you could give them some simple cough medicine and cold drinks to help them feel better, but what if it does not seem to help? The first thing to do is to take a look at their throat. If it just looks red, and you do not see anything out of the ordinary, then it may just be a sore throat, especially if they have or are just getting over a cold. But, if their throat has white spots on it, or if their tonsils look swollen, then it could be far worse.

Tonsilitis, a common childhood ailment, has the following symptoms that you should be aware of:

Fever: Usually 99 and up.

Tonsils: Tonsils appear red and swollen at the back of the child’s throat.

Throat pain: The child will have trouble swallowing because of the enlarged tonsils.

If this is the case, take your child to their doctor as soon as possible. The only treatment for this condition is surgery to remove the tonsils. They may remove the adenoids as well, especially if they show any signs of the infection that caused the tonsilitis. Treatment afterwards is usually antibiotics, followed by lots and lots of ice cream.

Another common illness that has severe throat pain as part of its symptoms is the ailment known as strep throat. Signs of strep throat may include any of the following:

Fever: The fever is usually 101 or higher than that and accompanied by a cold or flu, usually 101 or higher.

Tonsils: The tonsils are red, just like with tonsilitis but with white sacs of pus on them.

Lymph nodes: The lymph nodes on the neck, just under the jawbones will be swollen and tender to the touch.

Rash: Some children develop a small rash around their throat and chest that is rough to the touch, like sandpaper.

Headache: A headache will usually appear around the same time as the fever, and may be a sign that the infection is worsening.

Abdominal Pain, Nausea and Vomiting: some of the sacs on the tonsils may have burst and leaked into the throat, causing nausea. Most viral infections will cause abdominal pain and vomiting as part of their symptoms as well.

Mononucleosis is another common infection that has throat pain as a symptom. Most often seen in children older than 12, and in young adults, mono also has the following symptoms to watch out for:

High fever

Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin areas

Malaise and fatigue: a general feeling of illness and being tired all the time.

Loss of appetite


Nausea and abdominal pain

Any time a child complains of a sore throat, with a fever or without, they should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. You can never be too careful with childhood illness.