Most sore throats among infants, toddlers and preschoolers are caused by viral infections, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.
No antibiotic should be given to treat this type of sore throat, since antibiotics only treat bacterial infections, not those that are triggered by viruses.
One type of sore throat this is caused by bacteria is a strep throat. The culprit is a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes. This type of sore throat must be treated with an antibiotic.
Symptoms of strep among young children typically vary by age, the academy says. Here’s a brief list:
- Infants: May have only a low fever and a thickened or bloody nasal discharge.
- Toddlers: May also have a thickened or bloody nasal discharge with a fever. Toddlers with strep typically are quite cranky, have no appetite and often have swollen glands in the neck. Sometimes toddlers will complain of stomach pain instead of a sore throat.
- Children over age three: They are typically more sick and may have a very painful throat, fever greater than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius), swollen glands in the neck and pus on the tonsils.