Herpangina in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Herpangina (say "HUR-pann-JY-nuh") is an illness that is caused by a virus. It causes sores inside the mouth, a sore throat, and a high fever. Adults usually do not get it. Herpangina easily spreads to other children through exposure to a sick child's runny nose or saliva.

While herpangina can make your child feel very ill for a few days, this illness usually clears up within a week. The most common concern is that your child may get dehydrated because it is painful to swallow. You can use home treatment to reduce your child's pain and discomfort. Since this illness is caused by a virus, antibiotic medicine is not used to treat it.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) for fever, pain, or fussiness. Read and follow all instructions on the label. Do not give aspirin to anyone younger than 20. It has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Do not give your child over-the-counter antidiarrhea or upset-stomach medicines without talking to your doctor first. Do not give Pepto-Bismol or other medicines that contain salicylates, a form of aspirin, or aspirin. Aspirin has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Make sure your child rests. Keep your child home as long as he or she has a fever.
  • Have your child drink plenty of fluids. Warm fluids such as soup, warm water, or warm lemonade may ease throat pain. Ice cream, gelatin dessert, and sherbet can also soothe the throat.
  • If your child is eating solids, try offering bland foods, such as yogurt and warm cereal.
  • Watch for and treat signs of dehydration, which means that the body has lost too much water. Your child's mouth may feel very dry. He or she may have sunken eyes with few tears when crying. Your child may lack energy and want to be held a lot. He or she may not urinate as often as usual.
  • Give your child lots of fluids, enough so that the urine is light yellow or clear like water. This is very important if your child is vomiting or has diarrhea. Give your child sips of water or drinks such as Pedialyte or Gastrolyte. These drinks contain a mix of salt, sugar, and minerals. You can buy them at drugstores or grocery stores. Give these drinks as long as your child is throwing up or has diarrhea. Do not use them as the only source of liquids or food for more than 12 to 24 hours.
  • Wash your hands after changing diapers and before you touch food. Have your child wash his or her hands after using the toilet and before eating.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has severe trouble breathing. Signs may include the chest sinking in, using belly muscles to breathe, or nostrils flaring while your child is struggling to breathe.
  • Your child is confused, does not know where he or she is, or is extremely sleepy or hard to wake up.
  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).
  • Your child has a seizure.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a fever with a stiff neck or a severe headache.
  • Your child still has a fever after 5 days of home treatment.
  • Your child has signs of needing more fluids. These signs include sunken eyes with few tears, a dry mouth with little or no spit, and little or no urine for 6 hours.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child's mouth sores and sore throat get worse or are not improving.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: July 26, 2016