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Sore throat in children and adolescents: Symptomatic treatment

Jan E Drutz, MD
Section Editor
Teresa K Duryea, MD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD


Symptomatic relief of sore throat in children and adolescents will be reviewed here. The evaluation of sore throat in children, the diagnosis and differential diagnosis of group A streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis in children, and the symptomatic treatment of sore throat in adults are discussed separately. (See "Evaluation of sore throat in children" and "Group A streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis in children and adolescents: Clinical features and diagnosis" and "Symptomatic treatment of acute pharyngitis in adults".)


In children and adolescents, sore throat is usually caused by a viral infection or group A Streptococcus (table 1). Less common causes include other bacterial infections, respiratory allergies, inflammatory disease (eg, Behçet syndrome), irritant inhalants, dryness, and trauma (eg, hot liquids, foreign body injury, caustic ingestion, inhaled toxic gases). (See "Evaluation of sore throat in children", section on 'Causes'.)


Anticipatory guidance — Anticipatory guidance for sore throat in children and adolescents includes education about:

Expected course of illness – Throat pain caused by infections usually lasts a few days and should improve steadily without worsening.

In a 2013 meta-analysis of six randomized trials and one observational study (344 children), sore throat lasted between two to seven days among children who received control, placebo, or over-the-counter treatment; sore throat resolved by day 3 in approximately 60 to 70 percent of cases [1]. The duration of symptoms was similar in children with and without group A streptococcal (GAS) tonsillopharyngitis.

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 05, 2017.
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