TREATING UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTIONS
Pharyngitis is an infection
of the throat. Tonsillitis is an infection of the
tonsils, a more complicated form of pharyngitis.
Symptoms include sore throat, pain on swallowing,
redness of the throat, enlargement of the tonsils and
lymph nodes ("glands") of the neck, whitish patches in
the throat and on the tonsils, fever, fatigue, and
occasionally ear discomfort. Both infections may be
caused by bacteria or by viruses. Physical examination
alone is not sufficient to diagnose the cause of
infection. If bacterial, the most common cause is
Streptococcus ("strep"). Screening tests are therefore
performed to determine the presence or absence of strep.
A test may be done in the office or sent to the lab. If
cultured, preliminary results are generally available in
1 to 3 days. If tests for bacteria fail to show a
causative organism, the infection is assumed to be
viral. Antibiotics are curative if the infection is
bacterial. Antibiotics are ineffective in viral
infections. Most cases of pharyngitis resolve in 5-10
days. Persistent symptoms may require further
infections (URIs) are caused by many different viruses.
Typical symptoms include sore throat, nasal congestion
and discharge, cough, headache, muscle aches, fever, and
fatigue. Medications may help improve your symptoms, but
are not curative. Antibiotic therapy is ineffective in
viral URIs as they are in any other viral infection.
Occasionally bacteria may complicate URIs. Your doctor
will check you for this bacterial "superinfection" and
suggest antibiotic therapy if indicated.
Activity may slow your recovery.
plenty of fluids. If you cannot eat solid foods
because of pain, take high-calorie liquids such as
milkshakes, ice cream, or commercial preparations such
as Ensure or Merital.
smoke, discontinue cigarettes.
with antiseptic or warm salt water (1 tsp in 8 oz
water) to soothe throat. Lozenges such as Sucrets,
Hall's Mentholyptus, Chloroseptic, and Cepastat may
acetaminophen for fever and pain may be
prescription medications were given, take them as
directed. TO CURE STREP INFECTIONS TEN DAYS OF
ANTIBIOTIC THERAPY IS REQUIRED.
had a throat culture performed, call the office in 2-3
days to obtain a report. Final reports may take as
long as a week to return.
symptoms persist longer than 7-10 days, make an
appointment to return to the office for further
develop increasing fever, increasing throat pain,
severe throat or tonsilar swelling, or difficulty
breathing, headache, facial pain, stiff neck, ear
pain, or progressive cough with colored phlegm, make
an appointment to return to the office promptly for
CARE OF CHILD
Fever is a normal body
reaction to viral or bacterial illness. Fevers up to 104
F are not unusual in children, but may make them
1) Give appropriate doses
of acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 4 hours. The use of
aspirin in children with some viral infections has been
associated with Reye Syndrome, a rare but severe
condition. Therefore, use of acetaminophen is
recommended for most cases. Do not exceed the
2) If fever is difficult to
reduce, you may alternate acetaminophen and aspirin
(Acet@4PM, Asp@6PM, Acet@8PM, Asp@10PM...). Be certain
to read the package instructions carefully and use the
proper dose for your child's weight.
3) Fluid loss occurs with
fevers and therefore replacement fluids must be given.
Offer the child liquids as often as he or she will take
them. You may also give popsicles, soft drinks, fruit
juices, water, Gatorade, or Pedialyte (available in drug
or grocery stores).
4) Fevers above 104 F not
responding to treatment, or other changes in your
child's condition which concern you, should be brought
to the attention of your pediatrician for further
instructions or care.
ŠTed A. Tobey, M.D., Inc. ~ All Rights Reserved