Understanding Sore Throat: Treatment

Medically Reviewed by Sanjay Ponkshe on March 15, 2024
1 min read

Most sore throats are caused by viruses. That means antibiotics, drugs used to treat bacterial infections, won’t help your child get better any faster.


There’s one exception: strep throat. Bacteria does cause that condition, so antibiotics will help. If you think your child may have strep, you should see a doctor to find out.

If the sore throat stems from a cold virus, it’s going to need to run its course.


Try these home remedies to help your child feel better:

  • Make sure they get plenty of rest and drinks a lot of fluids.
  • Use a humidifier.
  • Inhale steam. Run hot water in a sink. Being careful to avoid a steam burn, drape a towel over your child’s head to trap the steam, and have them lean over the sink with the water running. Tell them to breathe deeply through their mouth and nose for 5 to 10 minutes. Repeat several times a day. 
  • Give them frozen treats like ice pops.
  • Have them sip chicken broth or warm, caffeine-free tea with honey. Don’t give honey to a child under 12 months of age.


For an older child:


  • Have them gargle with warm salt water (1/4 to 1/2  teaspoon of salt per cup (8 ounces) of water).
  • Give them throat lozenges or hard candy to suck on.


Over-the-counter cold medications may ease symptoms, too. But they won’t help your child get better any faster. Before you give your child any medication, talk to your doctor. And read the label carefully.