Imagining how unbearable it is for adults to have a sore throat when they have a cold.It's the same thing with babies. But the question is they have no idea what hit them and they can’t even tell you how they feel. But, if you pay close attention, your little one could be giving you signs to let you know what’s going on. Here’s what to look for, as well as what you can do to soothe baby sore throat gently yet effectively.
Sore throat causes
Viral infections similar to the common cold are the most common causes of sore throat in babies and toddlers. “Runny noses can give you a dry, irritated throat. The mucus is acidic; when it drips, it can infect the throat and make it painful.
In addition, if your baby is congested, he’ll likely leave his mouth open to help him breathe. This can lead to a dry and irritated throat too.
The virus can also infect the mucus membrane, which can lead to an upper respiratory infection and, in turn, a sore throat. Although a sore throat can happen any time of the year, you’re more likely to see it in December, January and February, which is right in line with flu season.
If your child’s sore throat is caused by the common cold, she’s likely to have a runny nose, cough and possibly sore ears, along with a fever, tiredness and a poor appetite.
If the cause is flu, your child might also have aches and pains.
It’s more likely to be a streptococcal infection if your child is older than three years, and if he has swollen neck glands, swollen red tonsils with white spots, and a rash. He might also have a fever, stomach pain and vomiting. This kind of sore throat might not come with a runny nose and cough.
Glandular fever is a relatively common cause of sore throats in older children. If your child has glandular fever, she’ll probably also have large swollen lymph glands and be very tired over a long period.
How to tell if a baby sore throat is a more serious infection
Sore throats will usually go away within seven to ten days. “If something more serious than a sore throat is going on, you may see additional signs of distress, such as persistent or forceful vomiting, diarrhea, rash, high fever and, in more severe cases, they may have difficulty breathing or swallowing,” says DeAnn Moore, MD, of the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York. See a doctor right away.
Even without the above symptoms, you should call your pediatrician if the sore throat comes with a fever. This could be a sign of another infection, such as Coxsackievirus (aka hand, foot and mouth disease), strep and mono.
If your child's old enough to be eating solids, warm beverages – tea or broth, for example – can be soothing. (Skip the honey in the tea until your baby is at least a year old, though. Honey may contain botulism spores that can grow in a baby's immature intestinal tract.) Children older than 12 months might also enjoy a little apple juice or an ice pop. Avoid citrus juices, though, as these can make your child's throat feel worse.
Keep in mind that it's important to keep your child from becoming dehydrated, so even though it may hurt to swallow, she'll need plenty of fluids, especially if she's running a fever. For young babies, that means breast milk or formula. If it's hard for your baby to swallow, try giving her smaller amounts to drink more frequently than usual.
If your child's really uncomfortable, ask the doctor whether you can give her a pain reliever such as infant acetaminophen or, if she's 6 months or older, ibuprofen. Never give a child aspirin, which is associated with a rare but serious condition called Reye's syndrome.
Try a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier in your child's bedroom to moisten the air and soothe her throat. Be sure to keep the filters clean, or they can add germs to the air.
Most types of throat infections are contagious, being passed primarily through the air on droplets of moisture or on the hands of infected children or adults. For that reason, it makes sense to keep your child away from people who have symptoms of this condition. However, most people are contagious before their first symptoms appear, so often there's really no practical way to prevent your child from contracting the disease.
In the past when a child had several sore throats, her tonsils might have been removed in an attempt to prevent further infections. But this operation, called a tonsillectomy, is recommended today only for the most severely affected children. Even in difficult cases, where there is repeated strep throat, antibiotic treatment is usually the best solution.