Pediatric Bacterial Pharyngitis: Symptoms And Treatments

Posted on: 29 October 2021

Pharyngitis refers to the inflammation of the throat and its surrounding soft tissues. It is very common, and while most cases of pediatric pharyngitis are caused by viruses, some are bacterial in nature. Viral pharyngitis is often caused by the rhinovirus, while bacterial pharyngitis may be caused by streptococci bacteria. Here are some common symptoms of pediatric bacterial pharyngitis as well as some effective treatment options. 


While signs and symptoms of pediatric bacterial pharyngitis vary, most all children develop a sore throat. Fever is also very common, as is throat redness and inflammation, and inflamed tonsils. In addition to inflammation, white spots may also appear on the tonsils. Your child may not have an appetite and they may develop nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Babies may drool excessively because throat pain and swelling make it difficult to swallow saliva. In addition to throat pain, your child may also experience referred pain to other parts of the body such as the ears and neck. Lymph node enlargement, coughing, and runny nose may also be present. Some children develop rashes and conjunctivitis, which is also known as pink eye. 


Pediatricians typically prescribe antibiotics once the diagnosis of bacterial pharyngitis has been confirmed. Without antibiotic therapy, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, raising the risk for heart valve damage. While antibiotics may cause stomach upset and diarrhea, it is essential that your child finish their entire prescription. The infection may not clear the body if the entire course of antibiotics is not finished.

If your child experiences gastrointestinal symptoms from the antibiotics, call the pediatrician. Eating probiotic-rich yogurt may help repopulate your child's gastrointestinal tract with good bacteria to help relieve diarrhea. In addition to antibiotics, treatment for pediatric bacterial pharyngitis also includes drinking plenty of fluids to help prevent fever-related dehydration, taking over-the-counter fever reducers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen, resting, and gargling with salt water.

Eating foods that are soothing to the throat such as soups, ice cream, and gelatin may also help calm irritated pharyngeal tissues. If your child gets repeated bouts of bacterial pharyngitis, a tonsillectomy may help prevent future infections. 

If your child develops any of the above symptoms of bacterial pharyngitis, make an appointment with the pediatrician as soon as possible. Prompt diagnosis and treatment interventions lower the risk for complications such as sepsis, which is a severe blood infection, fever-related dehydration, and prolonged illness. 

Contact a pediatrician if you have more questions.