Current Environment:

Sore Throat

Most Sore Throats are just a part of a cold and caused by a virus. The presence of a cough, hoarseness, or nasal discharge points to a cold as the cause of your child’s sore throat. Most children with a sore throat don’t need to see their doctor.

Symptom Management

Pain Relief:

  • Age Over 1 Year: Can sip warm fluids such as chicken broth or apple juice. Some children prefer cold foods such as Popsicles or ice cream.
  • Age Over 6 Years: Can also suck on hard candy or lollipops. Butterscotch seems to help.
  • Age Over 8 Years: Can also gargle. Use warm water with a little table salt added.
  • Medicated throat sprays or lozenges are generally not helpful.

Pain Medicine:

  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen for severe throat discomfort or fever over 102°F. Before administering medication, please review our medication dosing guides.
  • Ibuprofen may be more effective in treating throat discomfort than other OTC pain relievers.

Fluids and Soft Diet:

  • Try to get your child to drink adequate fluids. Cold drinks, milk shakes, popsicles, slushes, and sherbert are good choices. (Note: fluid intake is more important than eating solid foods.)
  • Offer a soft diet and avoid foods that require a lot of chewing.
  • Avoid citrus, salty, or spicy foods.
  • Swollen tonsils can make some foods hard to swallow. Cut food into smaller pieces.

Expected Course

Sore throats with viral illnesses usually last 4 or 5 days. Your child can return to daycare or school after the fever is gone and your child feels well enough to participate in normal activities. Children with strep throat need to be taking an oral antibiotic for 24 hours before they can return to school.

When to Call the Office

  • Sore throat is the main symptom and lasts over 48 hours.
  • Your child has a recent exposure to strep throat.
  • Sore throat with a cold lasts over 5 days.
  • Fever lasts over 3 days.
  • Your child becomes worse.


©1994-2022 Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines, LLC.

The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.