Peritonsillar Infection (Strep Throat)

You (or your child) has an infection around the tonsils. This is sometimes caused by the streptococcus bacteria, so it's often called strep throat. The infection can cause severe sore throat, pain with swallowing, swollen glands, and fever.

Strep throat is treated with antibiotics. 

Home care

  • All of the antibiotics should be taken as prescribed until they are gone. This is true even if symptoms start to get better. This is very important to ensure that the infection goes away. This helps prevent serious complications. It also helps keep the infection from spreading to other people.

  • Pain medicines should be taken as directed. (Don't give aspirin or aspirin-containing medicines to children younger than 18 years. It can cause a serious problem called Reye syndrome.)

  • To help ease pain, children older than 6 years and adults can gargle with warm saltwater. This can be done 4 times a day for the first 2 days. Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 1 glass of warm water. Gargle with the solution, then spit it out. (Be sure that children don't swallow the saltwater.) Discuss this home care solution with the healthcare provider to find out what solution is best for you (or your child).

  • Cool liquids and soft foods may make eating easier for the first few days.

Follow-up care

Follow up with a healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call the healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Fever (see Fever and children, below)

  • Symptoms that get worse or new symptoms 

  • Symptoms that go away and come back

  • Refusing food and drink

  • Trouble opening the mouth

  • Bleeding

  • Rash

  • Swelling or enlarged glands (look like bumps) in the neck

  • Neck stiffness

Call 911

Call 911 right away if any of the following occur:

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Inability to eat or drink

  • Trouble breathing

  • Excessive drooling

Prevention

Here are steps you can take to help prevent an infection:

  • Keep good hand washing habits.

  • Don’t have close contact with people who have sore throats, colds, or other upper respiratory infections.

  • Don’t smoke, and stay away from secondhand smoke.

  • Stay up-to-date with of your vaccines.

Fever and children

Use a digital thermometer to check your child’s temperature. Don’t use a mercury thermometer. There are different kinds and uses of digital thermometers. They include:

  • Rectal. For children younger than 3 years, a rectal temperature is the most accurate.

  • Forehead (temporal). This works for children age 3 months and older. If a child under 3 months old has signs of illness, this can be used for a first pass. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Ear (tympanic). Ear temperatures are accurate after 6 months of age, but not before.

  • Armpit (axillary). This is the least reliable but may be used for a first pass to check a child of any age with signs of illness. The provider may want to confirm with a rectal temperature.

  • Mouth (oral). Don’t use a thermometer in your child’s mouth until he or she is at least 4 years old.

Use the rectal thermometer with care. Follow the product maker’s directions for correct use. Insert it gently. Label it and make sure it’s not used in the mouth. It may pass on germs from the stool. If you don’t feel OK using a rectal thermometer, ask the healthcare provider what type to use instead. When you talk with any healthcare provider about your child’s fever, tell him or her which type you used.

Below are guidelines to know if your young child has a fever. Your child’s healthcare provider may give you different numbers for your child. Follow your provider’s specific instructions.

Fever readings for a baby under 3 months old:

  • First, ask your child’s healthcare provider how you should take the temperature.

  • Rectal or forehead: 100.4°F (38°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 99°F (37.2°C) or higher

Fever readings for a child age 3 months to 36 months (3 years):

  • Rectal, forehead, or ear: 102°F (38.9°C) or higher

  • Armpit: 101°F (38.3°C) or higher

Call the healthcare provider in these cases:

  • Repeated temperature of 104°F (40°C) or higher in a child of any age

  • Fever of 100.4° F (38° C) or higher in baby younger than 3 months

  • Fever that lasts more than 24 hours in a child under age 2

  • Fever that lasts for 3 days in a child age 2 or older

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