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Sometimes hot tea and honey are fine

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The colder weather this time of year heralds the anticipation of things such as winter sports, planning for family get-togethers, kids counting the days to winter break and maybe stocking up on hot tea and honey for that inevitable, annoying sore throat. 

As we enter this season it might be a good idea to have a clearer understanding of what a sore throat, or pharyngitis, actually is and when to be concerned enough to call for an appointment or just treat the symptoms at home.

About 80 percent of all sore throats are caused by a virus and need no prescription treatment. These infections often come with other upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny and stuffy nose, sneezing and can often be associated with fever. 

Many viruses can cause a sore throat with cold symptoms, but one of the most common in kids is hand, foot and mouth disease. This is caused by the often snickered at coxsackie virus (There is an idyllic little community called Coxsackie, NY, just south of Albany along the Hudson.) 

The hallmark of this infection is the appearance of small blisters on the back of the throat. A brief rash on the palms and soles is also not uncommon. 

Symptoms may last a week, but it is usually three to five days of feeling pretty poorly and then kids recover just fine.