Key points to remember about sore throats
- most sore throats are caused by viruses and need no treatment other than pain relief
- sometimes children can get strep throat (Group A streptococcus bacteria)
a rare complication of strep throat is rheumatic fever
Maori and Pacific Island children are most at risk of rheumatic fever, and should see a doctor with any sore throat
seek medical attention if the symptoms are not improving after 48 hours or your child develops other symptoms that concern you
What is a sore throat?
What causes a sore throat?
Sore throats are common in children. Causes can include:
- infection by viruses - the most common cause
- infection by Group A streptococcus bacteria (strep throat) - a less frequent cause
Viral sore throats
Colds and flu viruses commonly cause sore throats / tonsillitis in children. Children often complain of a sore throat at the beginning of a cold. This happens because either:
- the infection in the nose and sinuses causes drainage down the back of the throat, causing irritation, or
- there may be direct infection of the throat / tonsils by the virus
Less frequently, glandular fever (Epstein Barr virus) can cause sore throats, particularly in teenagers and young adults.
Group A streptococcus is a bacteria that can cause throat infection / tonsillitis (strep throat) in children and young people
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