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Home :: Sore Throat And Swollen Glands

Sore Throat And Swollen Glands

A sore throat without inflamed tonsils is called pharyngitis. Inflamed tonsils are tonsillitis. And a sore throat with inflamed tonsils is called pharyngo-tonsillitis. The main. concern with sore throats is to detect those infections caused by the streptococcus bacteria (strep throats) so that they can be treated with antibiotics. Untreated strep throats often get better on their own, but sometimes they turn into more. severe infections or cause rheumatic fever, a serious chronic condition.

Call the doctor in all cases of sore throat, especially if there is a fever of greater than 38.3°C (101°F). The doctor will do a throat culture or a rapid test for streptococcus if there is any suspicion. If the test is negative for strep, the cause is likely to be a virus and the infection will most likely go away on its own with­out antibiotics. Rest, paracetamol (Calpol and other brands) and plenty of fluids help. Warm saltwater gargles and throat lonzenges for children old enough not to choke (after age four or five), are also good comfort measures.

Strep throat

This is the common name for a throat infection caused by the streptococcus bacteria. The child usually has high fever for several days and feels sick. The tonsils often become fiery red and swollen. The glands (lymph nodes) in the neck are swollen and sometimes tender. After a day or two, white spots or white patches may appear on the tonsils. Older children may complain of such a sore throat that they can hardly swallow; others complain of a stomachache or headache. Young children may be bothered surprisingly little by the sore throat and strep throat is rare under age two. In strep throat there is usually no cough or runny nose. A child whose tonsils have been removed can still get strep throat.

The treatment for strep throats and scarlet fever (below) is an antibiotic of the penicillin family, either by mouth or injection or another antibiotic if the child is allergic to penicillin.

Scarlet fever

This is an infection from a type of streptococcus that causes a rash. The rash typically appears a day or two after the child becomes sick. It begins on the warm, moist parts of the body, such as the sides of the chest, the groin and the back. From a distance, it looks like a uniform red flush; if you look at it closely, you will see that it is made up of tiny red spots on a red­dish background. It feels like fine sandpaper. It may spread over the whole body and the sides of the face, but the region around, the mouth stays pale. The throat is red, sometimes fiery red and after a while the tongue usually gets red, first around the edge.

While it looks more dramatic than an ordinary strep throat, scarlet fever is no more dangerous. The treatment is the same as for any sore throat caused by streptococcus. In rare cases, a toxin that causes scarlet fever may produce a much more severe rash.

Other kinds of sore throat. There are all kinds and degrees of , throat infections caused by a variety of germs, primarlly viruses. Many people feel a slight sore throat at the beginning of every , cold. The doctor, in examining a child with a fever, often finds a slightly red throat as the only sign of disease. The child may not notice any soreness.

Most of these sore throats are soon over. The child should stay indoors if he feels sick or has a fever. The doctor should be called if there is fever, the child looks sick or the throat is more than slightly sore (even if there is no fever).

Some children wake on many winter mornings with a sore throat. They otherwise act well and the sore throat goes away shortly. This kind of sore throat is due to dry winter air, not illness and is of no significance. A humidifier can help prevent this.

Colds with runny, stuffy noses can also cause sore throats, especially in the early morning, because the mucus may run down the back of the throat during the night, causing irritation.

Swollen glands

The lymph glands or nodes that are scattered up and down the sides of the neck may become sore and swollen from any disease in the throat, mild or severe. The most common cause of swollen glands is infection of the tonsils, whether by strep or virus. Occasionally, the glands themselves become infected. They are then often very swollen, warm or tender. A doctor needs to evaluate all such large neck swellings. Treatment is by antibiotics.

Neck glands may remain slightly enlarged for weeks or even months after some throat infections. Swollen glands have other causes, too, such as infected teeth, scalp infections and general diseases, like rubella (German measles). You should consult your doctor about them, but if he finds that your child is generally healthy, don't worry about slightly swollen glands.


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