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 Integrative Medicine: Sore Throat 

  • If your child has a fever over 102°F or other symptoms of a strep infection, see your doctor. Only a doctor can accurately diagnose a strep throat.
    (See Strep Infection Versus Viral Infection Chart Below)

  • If your child has, or has recently recovered from, a step throat and develops renewed fever, joint pain or swelling, muscle spasms or twitching, a flat, painless rash, and/or bumps on her joints, scalp, or spine, contact your doctor right away. These an signs that she may be developing rheumatic fever.

  • If your child's sore throat is accompanied by a red, slightly rough rash on her neck, arms, legs, and/or groin area, or a red, swollen tongue, call your doctor promptly. These are symptoms of scarlet fever.

  • If your child has ever had rheumatic fever or scarlet fever in the past, you should consult your doctor whenever she gets a sore throat, no matter what the suspected cause, to protect against further complications. If anyone else in your household has had either of these diseases in the past, he or she should also con suit with a health care practitioner concerning measures to protect against further illness or complications.
  • If the diagnosis is strep, an antibiotic will be prescribed. Penicillin is usually the antibiotic of choice. Your physician may prescribe a course of penicillin in pill form, to be taken over a ten-day period, or he or she may opt for a one-dose injection of penicillin. If your child is allergic to penicillin, erythromycin is the preferred alternative. If pills are prescribed, it is important that the entire ten-day course be taken to ensure complete eradication of the bacteria.

    Your doctor may recommend a three-day wait before treating your child with antibiotics. There are both potential risks and benefits involved in initiating immediate antibiotic treatment for acute strep throat, as opposed to waiting three days before beginning treatment. A 1987 article in The Journal of Pediatric Infectious Diseases reported that discomfort and fever were reduced more quickly in children who were given antibiotics immediately, but these children suffered a higher incidence of reinfection. Children whose treatment was delayed for three days took longer to get better, but showed higher resistance to developing another case of the disease. Some doctors now believe that this is because immediate treatment with antibiotics inhibits the immune system by slowing the production of antibodies needed to fight off the existing infection. It appears that if the body is permitted to initiate healing on its own, it maybe more able to mobilize the defenses required to heal itself in the long run. You may wish to discuss with your doctor the possibility of using natural treatments for the first few days instead of starting with antibiotics immediately.

    If a strep throat is ruled out, your child's sore throat is most likely caused by a viral infection. If this is the case, antibiotics are ineffective and therefore not appropriate. Medical science has not yet discovered medications that fight most viral infections effectively. Fortunately, most viruses are self-limiting, even though viral infections can be quite uncomfortable. Treatment for a viral infection is aimed at helping the child stay as comfortable as possible.

    (Excerpted from Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child ISBN: 1583331395)
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     About The Author
    Janet Zand LAc, OMDJANET ZAND, O.M.D., L.Ac. is a nationally respected author, lecturer, practitioner and herbal products formulator whose work has helped thousands of people achieve better health....more
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