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3 Times You Need to Call the Doctor About Your Child’s Sore Throat

Doctor examining child

Typically, your child’s sore throat is more of annoyance than a serious health threat. However, if your child experiences any of these 3 signs and symptoms, call your doctor or seek immediate medical attention:

  1. Your child can’t control his or her mouth secretions. In other words, your child is unable to swallow saliva or drink any fluids due to either pain or swelling. Swelling could block your child’s airway or at the very least, present a major risk for dehydration.

    In babies and toddlers, you will notice constant drooling when your child’s mouth is open–much more than the small amounts of drool that accompany teething.

  2. Your child’s voice changes, becoming very raspy or more muffled than normal. This could indicate the throat is closing or your child is experiencing a severe infection or allergic reaction.

  3. Your child is short of breath, or has the sensation that it is difficult to get air into his or her lungs.

What To Do—And Not Do—To Help Your Child’s Sore Throat

Avoid using throat numbing sprays like Chloraseptic for topical pain relief. These sprays can increase the risk of choking due to uncoordinated swallowing.

The best treatment for throat pain is acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil). Keep in mind, dosages for these medications are based on your child’s weight. Always carefully read the label and speak with your healthcare provider first with any questions about appropriate doses. And remember, ibuprofen should not be given until your child is 6 months of age of older.

author name

Joan B. Thode, MD

Joan B. Thode, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician with LG Health Physicians Roseville Pediatrics.

Education: Undergraduate–Franklin & Marshall College; Medical School–George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Residency–NYU Langone Medical Center.

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About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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