Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Herpangina is an inflammation of the throat and mouth that is caused by a virus called coxsackievirus. It is spread from individual to individual through close contact, such as kissing or sharing food. It is more common in young children between the ages of 1 and 10 years. It may be confused with strep throat or canker sores. Recovery takes a few days to a week with little treatment required.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Symptoms usually appear 2–9 days after exposure. They include a temperature of 100°F to 104°F; a sore throat with a sudden onset, making swallowing painful; grayish white spots on the upper mouth; headache; loss of appetite; and fatigue.

No specific treatment is needed. A nonaspirin medication such as Tylenol can be used for the fever and pain. Tepid sponge baths can be used to reduce fever. Careful hand washing is needed to prevent the spread of the disease. Avoid kissing and sharing food. Increase fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Rest until the fever is gone. A soft or liquid diet should be given until the throat discomfort has decreased. Ice pops, jello, and ice chips may ease mouth and throat pain. Avoid acidic fruit juices that may further irritate the throat.

The DOs
• Rest until the fever is gone.
• Give nonaspirin medication such as Tylenol for the pain and fever, or use tepid sponge baths to reduce the fever.
• Increase your fluid intake.
• Eat a liquid or soft diet until the inflammation subsides.
• Use ice pops or ice chips to decrease discomfort.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t share food or kiss anyone.
• Don’t give aspirin to a child younger than 16 years (because of the risk of Reye’s syndrome).
• Don’t give acidic fruit juices, which will irritate the mouth and throat.
• Avoid spicy foods that may irritate the mouth.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If symptoms are not gone in 1 week.
• If fluids cannot be tolerated.
• If there are signs of dehydration such as dry, wrinkled skin, dark urine, or a decrease in the need to urinate.
• If anyone else in the family shows signs of the disease.

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