Child’s Sore Throat: Home Remedies and When to Call a Doctor

child sore throat when to call doctor home remedies

As a parent and caregiver, there are few things more panic-inducing than the signs of a sore throat and fever in your child. If the sound of tiny coughs and raspy voices has left you desperate for quick answers, you’re far from being alone.

But before you rush your little one off to the nearest emergency room and rack up a hefty medical bill, there are a few simple ways to determine the severity of your child’s sore throat symptoms and make an informed decision about whether it’s time to call your Doctor.

Common Causes of Sore Throat in Children and When to Call a Doctor

Here are the most common causes of sore throat in children along with their symptoms and when you should seek medical care for your child.

Common Cold

Just as the name suggests, the common cold is among the leading causes of throat pain in both children and adults.

At its core, developing a cold starts with a viral infection, which can be picked up on any number of surfaces, as well as in the very air we breathe.

Other symptoms of a common cold in children include…

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose and cough
  • Watery eyes
  • Low-grade fever

When to call a Doctor: While a sore throat from a cold will likely go away on its own, you should seek medical care for your child if they have a fever that lasts for more than 48 hours or appear to have trouble breathing.

Viral Infections

Of course, the common cold is far from being the only virus that can cause a sore throat and fever in a child.

More severe forms of viral infections, like the Mono, Flu and Covid-19, are most common during yearly cold and flu seasons, but can also be contracted by coming into direct contact with an infected person any time of the year.

Symptoms of a severe viral infection may include…

  • Itchy, swollen throat
  • Hoarse sounding voice
  • High-grade fever
  • Runny nose
  • Chills and body aches
  • Sores in the throat and mouth

When to call a Doctor: Unlike the common cold, these types of viral infections are less likely to clear up on their own. If you notice that your child has a sore throat and fever that worsens after the first 48 hours, you should seek medical advice from a pediatrician.

Bacterial Infections

Not every case of sore throat and fever in a child is due to a virus.

A bacterial infection, such as Strep throat, occurs when the child comes into contact with a person carrying the contagious germ, and symptoms usually arise 2 – 5 days after exposure.

This is especially common amongst school-aged children or those who attend a daycare where they are frequently exposed to other kids and caregivers.

Some symptoms of a bacterial infection include…

  • Sore throat with visible white patches
  • Fever and chills that come on suddenly
  • Swollen glands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dull headache
  • Nausea

When to call a Doctor: If you suspect your child has contracted a bacterial infection, it’s important to seek care from a medical provider as soon as possible to administer a strep test. With the right antibiotics, you can combat the illness and prevent further spreading.


Some cases of sore throats in children aren’t caused by contagious infections, but by irritants in our surroundings.

Seasonal and environmental allergens, like pollen, weeds, and animal dander, are prime culprits for causing dry, itchy throats in children and adults of all ages.

In most cases, you will observe an ongoing pattern in your child’s symptoms, which can be related to a particular time of year or coming into contact with allergens.

This type of post-nasal drip can cause symptoms including…

  • Dry, itchy throat
  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose and cough
  • Shortness of breath

When to call a Doctor: While not contagious, seasonal allergies can cause irritating symptoms in children of all ages. You should consult with a certified pediatrician to determine the best treatment plan for ongoing allergies.

Lifestyle Factors

With active little ones, the likelihood of developing a sore throat from daily activities is higher than you may have guessed.

Running on the playground, speaking loudly, and napping with their mouth open can cause your child to feel an itch in their throat for several days.

If this is the case, you should notice nothing more than slight hoarseness to your child’s voice, and an absence of other symptoms such as fever and chills.

When to call a Doctor: If you notice that your child’s sore throat fails to improve after 48 hours or more symptoms begin to develop, you should contact a medical professional to better assess their needs.

Home Remedies to Soothe Your Child’s Sore Throat

Regardless of what may be causing your child’s sore throat, relief doesn’t have to be far away.

These home remedies are fast, effective, and readily available, so you can help your child to start feeling better, no matter how far away your nearest urgent care clinic is.

Drink Fluids

Whether your child’s sore throat is due to allergies or an infection, it’s crucial to keep them hydrated as they recover. Consider giving them electrolyte-loaded sports drinks, a warm cup of broth, or even immune-boosting apple cider vinegar to soothe a sore throat in your child.

Use Hard Candy

The more moisturized your child’s sore throat is, the less irritation they will feel. Hard candies, throat lozenges and sprays, and even popsicles can help alleviate painful symptoms in your little one.

Gargle Salt Water

If your child’s sore throat is accompanied by mucus in their nose and mouth, then gargling a warm glass of salt water is an easy way to break up sinus drainage and help them feel relief fast.

Pain Relievers

When a sore throat is accompanied by a slight fever, you can help your child feel better with over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, which have been approved for your child’s age range.


Recovering from a sore throat, no matter what the cause may be, takes a serious toll on our body’s immune system. Allowing your child plenty of time to rest and recover can help them feel rejuvenated and eliminate the length of their symptoms.

Still have Questions about a Sore Throat and Fever in your Child?

Telepeds offers on-demand, convenient, and low-cost solutions for busy parents who need professional medical insight without the hassle of a trip to the emergency room.

Learn how we’re connecting concerned parents with board-certified pediatricians today.

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