child in bed with a sore throat

Causes & symptoms

In children, the most frequent cause of a sore throat is a viral infection. No specific medication is needed when a virus causes a sore throat. The illness will go away on its own. Many times when children have a sore throat they have cold symptoms at the same time. Symptoms like fever, runny nose, and cough. These infections usually get better without medication in 7 – 10 days.

When should I call my pediatrician

Sometimes it may be difficult to sort out when your child has a sore throat that will get better on its own or if it is causes by a more serious infection. You should call your pediatrician if:

  • There is fever >100.4F and no other symptoms (no cough, no congestion, no runny nose)
  • Fever for more than 48 hours
  • Stomachache
  • Rash
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Signs of dehydration – dry mouth, no tears when crying, urinates less than three times a day

Relieving a sore throat

Many sore throats can have some relief with drinking warm fluids, like tea, water, soup, or gargling warm salt water. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen help reduce inflammation and pain. If over four, throat lozenges can also be helpful. We also encourage soft foods to not irritate the throat as well. See our section on colds for other treatments at home for other cold symptoms.