Sore throat is extremely common in children, teenagers and young adults and is often associated with a high temperature. Tonsils are small glands that sit either side of the throat and are sometimes affected (tonsillitis).
Symptoms of tonsillitis
- Sore throat and pain on swallowing
- Fever can be present
- Swollen, painful glands in your neck
- Tonsils red with pus
These symptoms usually improve within 4-7 days.
Most cases of sore throat in young children (under 5 years of age) are caused by viral infections; your child may also have a runny nose, cough or earache. Tonsillitis can be caused by a number of different bacteria, but it is usually due to a group A streptococcus bacteria (strep throat).
Most children with tonsillitis/sore throat do no require treatment with antibiotics. Antibiotics rarely speed up recovery and often cause side effects such as rash and diarrhoea. They will also promote the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria in your child.
However, if your child has any features of severe infection (amber or red features above), they will need to be urgently seen by a healthcare professional who may decide that your child may benefit from antibiotic treatment.
You can help relieve symptoms by:
- Giving your child paracetamol or ibuprofen to help relieve pain
- Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids
- You can buy a throat spray from your pharmacist which may help with pain
It is not always easy to avoid catching these infections. However, good hygiene practices can prevent infections spreading.
- Wash your hands regularly
- Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing and put it in the bin
- Avoid sharing glasses or utensils with people who are unwell