Ever since my son Tyler was a baby, he's been prone to strep throat. Some kids are, it seems. His brother Austin, on the other hand, has never had it.
I remember as a child, I only had strep throat once, so at the first sign of a sore throat, my mom hauled me into the pediatrician's office for a dreaded throat culture. But she more than made up for it by letting me watch TV on the couch for the rest of the day!
Sore throats have been in the news lately because they can be a symptom of COVID-19. It's not one of the three main symptoms, which are fever, cough and difficulty breathing, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But some people do experience a sore throat. If you think you or your children have signs of COVID-19, consult your doctor.
Here's what our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — do to treat sore throats in their own kids.
"It can be difficult to know if a toddler has a sore throat," says Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a mom of two and a family physician in Fredonia, Kansas. "They don't always understand the concept of 'throat.' Sometimes a child will say his neck hurts or point into his mouth. Those are signs I watch my daughter for when she's sick."
"When my sons had sore throats, I would give them a homeopathic remedy, such as Sambucus or some form of elderberry or Oscillococcinum — whichever I had on hand at the time," says Cathie Lippman, M.D., a mom of two grown sons and a physician who specializes in environmental and preventive medicine at the Lippman Center for Optimal Health in Beverly Hills, California. "Homeopathic remedies are gentle, safe, very diluted substances that you can buy over the counter at health food stores and online. I also gave them more vitamin C."
"There's really not much to do to prevent sore throats. If kids go to day care, they're going to get colds and sore throats. When my kids have sore throats, I try to ease their symptoms," Sadaf T. Bhutta, M.D., a mom of a daughter and triplets and an assistant professor and the fellowship director of pediatric radiology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and Arkansas Children's Hospital, both in Little Rock. "Back home in Pakistan, we avoid cool foods and beverages when we have sore throats or colds. So, we don't eat ice cream or drink ice water. We also avoid sour foods and beverages such as fruit and juices. Instead, to soothe a cold or sore throat, we give warm foods and beverages, such as hot tea or room temperature water.
"When a child has a sore throat, it's important to keep him hydrated," continues Bhutta. "Try to give him food to keep his energy up, but not so much that he vomits or gets diarrhea."
"I also treat my toddlers' sore throats with over-the-counter pain medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin), as recommended for age and weight," Bhutta says. "Enlist help if you can. When you have sick kids, you can never have too much help."
Dr. Rallie's Tips
"My sons all had sore throats as toddlers, usually as a result of a cold. Infection with a cold virus is one of the most common causes of sore throats, although it can be caused by a bacterial infection, such as streptococcus, or strep. Sore throats can also be the result of sinus drainage related to allergies or breathing dry air through the mouth, and a very small percentage of toddlers might have a sore throat caused by something lodged in the throat or esophagus, such as a coin or a small part from a toy.
"As long as my toddlers were breathing well, able to swallow normally, and not too sick to eat or drink well, I tried not to medicate them with prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines. I kept a close eye on them until the illness had run its course. In the meantime, I'd offer them foods like chicken noodle soup and applesauce, which are easy to swallow, and plenty of liquids to drink. Sometimes they'd enjoy crushed ice or fruit popsicles, which helped keep their throats moist and cool and eased their discomfort. I'd also make them a warm 'tea' of honey and lemon, which is very soothing to inflamed tissues.
"If my boys didn't feel better in a day or two, or if they developed any other symptoms, such as an earache, a stomachache, swollen neck glands or a rash, I'd call their pediatrician." — Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky.
Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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