Approach to a child with sore throat

Indian J Pediatr. 2011 Oct;78(10):1268-72. doi: 10.1007/s12098-011-0467-0. Epub 2011 Jun 10.


Sore throat is one of the common reasons for outpatient and emergency visits among children. It could be because of several etiologies; of these bacterial pharyngitis is the most important. Major challenge for the clinician is to diagnose group A beta hemolytic streptococcus (GABHS) pharyngitis and diphtheria, which are associated with serious complications. Throat swab smear with culture and rapid antigen tests are useful for making the diagnosis but the later may not be available in resource poor settings. Many clinical scores have been devised to diagnose GABHS with variable success but usually clinical features, epidemiological criteria and expert clinical judgment with or without supportive investigations indicate need for antibiotics. A child with sore throat and toxic look may have diphtheria or parapharyngeal/retropharyngeal abscess, and therefore should be hospitalized.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking
  • Pharyngitis / diagnosis
  • Pharyngitis / drug therapy
  • Pharyngitis / etiology*
  • Pharynx / microbiology
  • Pharynx / virology
  • Physical Examination
  • Specimen Handling


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents