Herpangina is a common illness seen in children during summer. It is a viral infection caused by enteroviruses, which results in small, blister-like ulcers at the back of the throat and the roof of the mouth. Children may complain of a sore throat and fever when they contract Herpangina.
Herpangina is significantly visible in children under the age of 5 years. It is commonly caused by group A Coxsackieviruses. Group B Coxsackieviruses, Enterovirus 71 and Echovirus are also responsible for causing herpangina. These viruses are very contagious and can spread rapidly through the fecal-oral route, i.e. contamination of hands or from the respiratory route i.e. by sneezing or coughing.
Herpangina symptoms may differ from person to person, but may include:
- Sudden onset of fever
- Sore throat
- Headache and pain in the neck
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty in swallowing and loss of appetite
- Drooling and vomiting (in infants)
It is better to visit the doctor immediately if the fever is over 106°F and is prolonged, along with sore throat lasting more than five days, dry mouth, sunken eyes, dark urine and fatigue. The course of infection may last anywhere between one to two weeks.
The doctors conduct a physical examination to diagnose the condition. They will also review the symptoms and medical history, if any. Specialized tests are usually not required.
The doctors mainly aim to reduce the symptoms, especially throat pain. The doctor may recommend ibuprofen or acetaminophen, topical anesthetics and increased fluid intake.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen is the primary treatment, given to reduce the fever.
Topical anesthetics like lidocaine are efficient in providing relief from a sore throat and other pains related with herpangina.
Increased fluid intake is often advised by doctors. They may suggest drinking plenty of water and cold milk for faster recovery. A sore throat can also be treated by eating popsicles.
Practicing good hygiene is recommended to prevent herpangina. Washing hands before meals and after using washrooms is recommended. It is advised to cover your nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing. This will prevent germs from spreading. Children should be taught these steps for prevention.