ENT Center of Austin - Doctor's Blog

Herpangina - A Summer Disease

Kid Herpangina Playground


No, it's not the name of a tune written by some Swedish vocal group. Let's go to our old pals at Wikipedia for the answer:

"The term is derived from the Greek herp, creeping, snake like, and Latin angina, a sore throat, literally "a choking." Herpangina, also called mouth blisters, is the name of a painful mouth infection caused by coxsackieviruses. Usually, herpangina is produced by one particular strain of coxsackie virus A (and the term "herpangina virus" refers to coxsackievirus but it can also be caused by coxsackievirus B or echoviruses. Most cases of herpangina occur in the summer, affecting mostly children. However, it occasionally occurs in adolescents and adults. It was first characterized in 1920."

There you go.

More Bad News

The ENT Center of Austin has bullet-pointed some things you need to know about this summer virus. We'll start with the worst:

  • It's really hard to prevent herpangina. It depends on good hygiene and avoidance with other children that have been infected with coxsackievirus. Tough to do as we said. Half of all infections show no symptoms right away. Scientists have yet to develop a vaccine.


  • The only thing that can be done is to make your child comfortable with something we'll prescribe that eases the pain. Youngsters may show a decrease in appetite and reduce their fluid intake. Why? It hurts. You do not want that to happen. Bad things can happen when your little one gets dehydrated.
  • Usually young kids are the ones who get the infection, between the ages of 3 and 10. The thing is usually passed through a "fecal-oral route" (be sure that they wash their hands after going to the toilet!). When they come close to a sick child -- not like Eddie Haskell from the old "Leave it to Beaver" series --  we're talking about another child that overflows with mucous. It takes a couple of weeks to incubate before it turns into a full-blown case of herpangina, that's why we say it's pretty tough to spot an infection in its early stages.
  • At our clinic, we'll do some tests to determine if your child does indeed have herpangina.
  • Usually the little ones will get blisters in the back of their mouth, complain about a sore throat and come-down with a fever.
  • The good news, most people who catch this virus will get back into a healthy state in about a week.

Another Upside for the Stricken

While herpangina is no trip to the beach, the symptoms are kept at bay by eating cold milk things, like ice cream. Yay! And pudding, Double yay! OTC stuff like ibuprofen and Tylenol will help relieve the pain. Sometimes, we'll even prescribe, in really serious cases, a topical pain reliever like xylocaine or benzocaine. Usually, it's not necessary. The pain relievers and the tasty ice cream will turn the suffering dial down.

Another thing some suggest is a concoction of liquid Benadryl and the antacid Maalox. They say this coats the back of the throat and eases discomfort. Discuss this with us before trying it at home. No proof on this clinically.

We're doctors. Not shamans or medicine men.

Image Source: biznology.com

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