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General Information

DEFINITION--A viral inflammation of the mouth and throat. It may be confused with canker sores, strep throat or herpes.

BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Soft palate (back of the mouth and tonsil area).

SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--Young children (1 to 10 years).


  • Fever.
  • Sudden sore throat, with redness, inflammation and painful swallowing.
  • General ill feeling.
  • Vomiting and abdominal pain (sometimes).
  • Tiny blisters (vesicles) in the affected areas. The blisters become small ulcers.

CAUSES--Infection from a virus (coxsackievirus) that is spread from person to person. Incubation period is usually from 2-7 days.

RISK INCREASES WITH--Summer and early fall seasons.


  • Cannot be prevented at present, but wash hands carefully to prevent its spread.
  • Avoid close personal contact such as kissing or sharing food.

What To Expect


  • Your own observation of symptoms.
  • Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.

APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE--Home care. Usually no treatment is necessary other than simple painkillers.

POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS--Febrile convulsions.

PROBABLE OUTCOME--Spontaneous recovery in a few days to a week.

How To Treat


  • Careful handwashing and sanitary disposal of excretions is important.
  • Try to reduce high fever which might cause dehydration. Use tepid sponge baths.

MEDICATION--Medicine usually is not necessary for this disorder. You may use non-prescription drugs, such as acetaminophen, to relieve pain and fever. Don't give aspirin to children under age 18.

ACTIVITY--Bed rest is necessary until the fever and sore throat disappear.

DIET--No special diet. Encourage extra fluids, such as water, fruit ices, ice chips or cool-gelatin solutions. Avoid acid fruit juices, which irritate inflamed tissues.

Call Your Doctor If

    Your child has symptoms of herpangina.

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