For the most part, children who have a sore throat get better either on their own or with a little help from antibiotics. However, there are times when parents need to be aware of the danger signs that a throat infection is becoming a serious issue.
For example, I remember a two-year-old boy who presented with a fever, a large lump on the neck and had difficulty eating. The child had a throat infection with fever that did not get better after three weeks with antibiotics. Ultimately, he had to be taken to the operating room and undergo a procedure to drain the large abscess (collection of pus) that had formed in his throat.
Danger signs include a fever that is not getting better with antibiotics, a decreased appetite and worsening throat pain. A lump in the neck actually comes later. This can be dangerous and even life-threatening if this abscess causes blockage of the child’s airway.
Parents should make note of nausea and dizziness followed by throat infection symptoms, as it can indicate other complications like an ear infection. Other signs that may suggest a more serious infection include a sore throat that persists (not one that goes away after a first drink in the morning) and difficulty breathing or extreme trouble swallowing.
Please notify your primary care physician immediately if your child has these problems so they can be treated immediately.