The staff of Panda Pediatrics, located in Washington, D.C.
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Most sore throats are caused by viruses and are part of a cold. However, about 30% are due to the strep bacteria.
A throat culture or rapid strep test is the only way to distinguish strep throat from viral infection.
To provide local pain relief, children over 8 years of age can gargle with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of salt per 6-8 oz water).
Children over 4 years of age can suck on hard candy, like butterscotch or lollipops, as often as necessary. Children over 1 year can sip on warm chicken broth.