Strep throat is a bacterial throat infection caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria usually seen in children between the ages of five and 15. Most cases of sore throat are caused by a virus and have few complications, but strep throat can lead to some serious complications such as rheumatic fever and kidney inflammation. Keep reading to learn more about this common childhood illness.
Strep Throat Symptoms
Strep throat is contagious and spreads through nasal and other fluids, usually through sneezing and coughing. It’s common to see strep throat occur simultaneously in family members.
Some common symptoms of strep include:
- Red, swollen tonsils, may have white patches
- Stomach ache
- Swollen, tender lymph glands in the neck
- Tiny, red spots at the back of the roof of the mouth
- Trouble swallowing
- Vomiting (in some cases).
You may see all or only some of these symptoms in your child, as strep symptoms tend to vary. Some cases of strep throat are severe, while others are mild. For this reason, you’ll want your pediatrician to confirm a strep throat infection through a strep test. This simple test involves using a cotton swab to take a sample of fluids from the back of the throat.
Some people can be carriers of the Streptococcus bacteria and have no symptoms at all; not a sore throat or even the usual strep throat fever. These people can still spread strep throat. The contagious strep bacteria are highly transferable.
Strep Throat Treatment
Because strep throat is caused by bacteria, it’s likely your child’s pediatrician will prescribe a 10-day dose of antibiotics. After a couple of days, the fever will likely subside, and your child will no longer be contagious. Other symptoms of strep should go away within three days. Be sure that your child takes all of the antibiotics, even if he’s beginning to feeling better.
If a child is not treated for strep, she risks infecting others and suffering from strep related complications, such as:
- Kidney infections
- Rheumatic fever
- Scarlet fever.
Be on the lookout for complications and call your child’s doctor if you notice the following:
- Cola-colored urine more than a week after strep symptoms begin
- Fever that continues long after other strep symptoms have subsided
- Lack of improvement after taking antibiotics for 48 hours
- Pain or swelling of the joints
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
In cases without complications, you can treat your child’s strep symptoms at home. Offer him plenty of fluids to fend off fever-related dehydration. Avoid orange juice or other acidic liquids because they can irritate a sore throat. Warm liquids may also help. Ask your child’s doctor when he can return to school and resume normal activities.
Klein, J. (2009). Strep throat. Retrieved December 27, 2009, from the Kids Health Web site: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/strep_throat.html#.
Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Strep throat. Retrieved December 27, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/strep-throat/DS00260.
Vonick, L. (2009). Strep throat. Retrieved December 27, 2009, from the Med Line Plus Web site: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000639.htm.