When to Worry about Your Child's Sore Throat

The all-too-common sore throat is often part and parcel of a young child’s life as they negotiate the myriad colds and allergens that await them in the world. But sometimes a sore throat is a sign of something more serious; you just need to recognize the red flags.

Here at Southern ENT, our team of otolaryngologists is trained and experienced in identifying problems that go beyond just a normal sore throat, giving parents in Thibodaux, Houma, Raceland, Morgan City, New Iberia, and Opelousas, Louisiana, peace of mind knowing that they’re receiving the right care.

But the first step — knowing when to see us — is one you have to make, so we’ve pulled together the following primer on situations when a sore throat might be cause for concern. Our goal here isn’t to scare you unnecessarily, but to provide you with information that can potentially help us prevent a small problem from becoming a more major medical issue.

The common sore throat

Thanks to developing immune systems and group environments, kids can get up to eight colds a year, and sore throats are often front and center among the symptoms. If your child has a cold, they will likely suffer from other symptoms, such as a runny nose, congestion, and respiratory problems. In most cases, the viral infection, or common cold, needs to run its course and your child should start feeling better after 3-7 days.

If, however, these symptoms aren’t getting any better, or they’re heading in the opposite direction and becoming worse, this is a sign that there may be more at play than a simple cold. And if your child develops a fever that’s above 101℉ and it persists, that’s another clear sign that you’re dealing with more than a cold.

Strep throat, mononucleosis, the flu, measles, and chickenpox all feature sore throats as one of the primary symptoms. And these are all conditions that benefit from medical attention.

The air they breathe

Allergies are another major cause of sore throats. If your child complains of an uncomfortable throat without any other symptoms, or symptoms that are common with allergies (runny nose and eyes, for example), allergies might be at the root of the problem.

Note when your child’s sore throat seems to be worse — it could be a matter of location, season, or weather. For example, if every time your child goes out to play in the yard, they come back complaining of a sore throat, allergens in the air might be irritating their throats when they breathe. By the same token, if your child’s sore throat tends to flare during a certain time of year, seasonal allergies are the likely culprit.

Paying close attention to the circumstances when your child has a sore throat goes a long way toward figuring out whether they may have allergies that we need to address.

Beyond allergies and colds

While colds and allergies are the main drivers of sore throats, there are other, less common, reasons behind the ailment. For example, your child may have an abscess behind their tonsils or in the back of their throat that’s causing problems. Stomatitis, which leads to actual sores in their mouth or throat, can also lead to throat pain.

Rounding out the list of uncommon problems is ingestion. By ingestion, we mean the many things that can find their way into your child’s mouth. From cleaning products to automotive liquids found in the garage, your child may take a “drink” of these brightly-colored substances, leaving them with a sore throat, and more. If your child is drooling or having difficulty swallowing or breathing, get them into urgent care as quickly as possible.

The bottom line is that you know your child best and if their sore throat appears to be outside the norm, you’d do well to come in and see us. Please give us a call if you’re at all unsure, or use the online scheduling tool to book an appointment at one of our locations.

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