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Throat anatomy
Throat anatomy


Mouth anatomy
Mouth anatomy


Definition:

Herpangina is a viral illness in which ulcers and lesions (sores) form inside the mouth, and there is sore throat and fever.

See also: Hand, foot, and mouth disease



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Herpangina is typically caused by Coxsackie group A viruses.

The number of cases of herpangina is unknown, but it is a common childhood infection. It is most often seen in children ages 3 - 10, but it can occur in any age group. Cases of herpangina at school or in the neighborhood increase the chances that your child will develop the illness.



Symptoms:
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat, or painful swallowing
  • Ulcers in the mouth and throat, and similar sores on the feet, hands, and buttocks

The ulcers usually have a white to whitish-gray base and a red border. They may be very painful. Generally, there are only a few sores.



Signs and tests:

Tests are not normally necessary. Diagnosis can usually be made from the history and physical examination.



Treatment:

The symptoms are treated as necessary:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin) by mouth for fever and discomfort as the doctor recommends
  • Increased fluid intake, especially cold milk products
  • Non-irritating diet (cold milk products, including ice cream, are often the best choices during herpangina infection. Fruit juices are too acidic and tend to irritate the mouth sores.)
  • Topical anesthetic agents for the mouth (these may contain benzocaine or xylocaine and are usually not required)


Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

The illness normally clears up within a week.



Complications:

There are usually no complications.



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if:

  • Fever, sore throat, or mouth sores last for more than 5 days
  • Your child is having trouble drinking liquids or looks dehydrated
  • Fever becomes very high or does not go away


Prevention:

Coxsackie virus is transmitted by contamination with feces, which means you can catch the virus by touching your mouth or eating without thoroughly washing your hands. Good handwashing practices can help prevent transmitting most viruses.

Being aware of other cases of herpangina in your neighborhood or school may allow earlier diagnosis.




Review Date: 11/12/2007
Reviewed By: Rachel A. Lewis, MD, FAAP, Columbia University Pediatric Family Practice, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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