Strep throat can happen to your child at any time of the year, but especially in the late winter and early spring. During this time of year, we treat strep throat frequently. Now is the time to know what to look for if you think that your child might be dealing with a case of strep throat. We hope that this article will help you have some peace of mind when it comes to the health of your child when they aren’t feeling well. Here’s what you should know about strep throat and how it is different than typical sore throats.
What Is Strep Throat?
It is an infection that is caused by bacteria and it is highly contagious. Anybody can get strep throat, but it is more common among children. Those between the ages of 5 and 15 are the most likely to get a strep infection. This is rare for children under the age of three. If your child has an acute respiratory tract infection (usually caused by a viral infection), there is a pretty good chance that it is caused by this bacteria (about a 1/3 chance). Most cases need to be treated with antibiotics in addition to rest and lots of fluids. This combination should make your child feel better in a few days.
Signs And Symptoms Of Strep Throat
Here are the signs and common symptoms to look for when determining whether your child is dealing with a suspect strep throat.
Sore throat that starts quickly
Throat pain when swallowing
Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
Additional symptoms that may appear when a child has strep throat include:
general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
loss of appetite
Some signs that do not usually come with a case of strep throat are:
Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
Strep Throat Diagnosis
Use these signs as a guide to help diagnose strep throat or if it might be a sore throat infection. However, only a strep test can determine for sure whether your child has strep throat. If your child has a sore throat and other strep throat symptoms, call your doctor. With a quick test — known as a rapid strep test — a doctor can check for streptococcal bacteria using a cotton swab to collect a sputum sample from your child’s throat. Results from a rapid strep test are available within a few minutes. If we determine that your child has a painful strep throat infection, prescription antibiotics can clear it up. Usually, antibiotics for strep throat start to provide symptom relief within a day or two, and their difficulty swallowing decreases.
What Makes Kids Susceptible?
There are a few risk factors that can make kids become more susceptible to a strep throat infection. Help your kids to avoid doing the following and that will help prevent strep throat from becoming a problem in your home.
Exposure To Other Kids
Strep bacteria spread easily when there are many children are together in a confined space like at school or at a daycare center. It spreads mainly through coughing and sneezing. When kids breathe in those airborne droplets that are expelled by someone who has strep — they may get sick, too. Strep throat bacteria also spread from one person to another when they share items such as eating utensils. Teach your children not to share straws, utensils, and glasses when they are in places that are exposed to a lot of kids.
This is the best way for your kids to stop germs from spreading strep throat. Kids touch countless things in a day and even if your kids do a good job of keeping clean, there are others out there that don’t — even when they have a sore throat or runny nose. There is really no way to avoid coming into contact with germs which is why it is so important to teach your kids to wash their hands. And the right way and times to do it. Teach your younger children to wash their hands at the following times:
when their hands are dirty
before eating or touching food
after using the bathroom
after blowing their nose or coughing
after touching pets or other animals
after playing outside
before and after visiting a sick relative or friend
It is also very important to teach them the right way to wash their hands that will get them clean. Here are some helpful handwashing tips for your kids that can help prevent strep throat.
Use warm or cold (not hot) water when you wash your hands.
Choose a soap that they are going to be willing to use. Sometimes kids decide they don’t like a certain color, scent, or type of soap. Find something that will get them scrubbing and stick with it.
Work up some lather on both the front and back of the hands, wrists, and between all of the fingers. Make sure they also wash around their nails. Wash for 15-20 seconds. You can have them count to 20, sing the “Happy Birthday” song, or recite the alphabet.
Rinse and dry well with a clean towel.
How Is Strep Throat Treated?
At Just 4 Kids Urgent Care we usually prescribe about 10 days of antibiotic medicine as treatment for a child with strep throat. Within about 24 hours after starting on antibiotics, your child probably won’t have a fever and won’t be contagious any longer. By the second or third day, other symptoms should start to go away.
How Can I Help My Child Feel Better?
Home care can help your child feel better while battling a strep throat infection. Give them plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration. Water and ginger ale are good options — especially if they have had a fever. Avoid acidic beverages like orange juice, grapefruit juice, or lemonade. They can irritate a sore throat. Warm liquids like soups, sweetened tea, or hot chocolate can be soothing. Most kids can go back to school when they’ve taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours and no longer have a fever.
Just 4 Kids Urgent Care
We hope this will help you understand what strep throat is, the symptoms of strep throat, how to deal with it, and preventative measures to take. We offer fast and accurate in-office testing that can tell us whether your child has something more than a sore throat. If you suspect this is the case, it is not a medical emergency, but your child should be seen and tested quickly. When left untreated, strep throat could lead to potentially serious complications, such as kidney inflammation, rheumatic fever, or heart damage. As always, please give us a call, text, or come and see us if you have any questions about what is ailing your child or how to keep your kids healthy.