Picture this: your daughter wakes up, holding her neck, and says, “Mommy, my throat hurts.” You think it could just be due to the changes in the weather, so you offer her some water and a warm breakfast, hoping it will clear up in no time. But unfortunately, that does not do the trick.
Now you know you are dealing with any actual sickness, but how serious is it? Every kid deals with a sore throat at some point in their life. Sore throats can either be caused by a virus or bacteria. When due to a bacteria called streptococci, or strep for short, treatment requires medical intervention.
We believe it is crucial to correctly identify which type of sore throat your child is suffering from because the treatments differ. Laid out below is information about strep throat in kids, symptoms you should look for, and ways to treat the condition.
What is strep throat?
Group A Streptococcus is a bacterial infection that lives in the throat and can cause throat pain and swelling. Strep throat is most commonly found in school-aged children, though it can affect anyone. It can spread to other parts of the body if you do not treat it. Strep bacteria can damage the kidneys, heart and cause rheumatic fever.
Urgent care or a pediatrician will take a throat culture swab and send it to a lab for testing to diagnose strep throat apart from a viral sore throat. If positive, they will suggest treatment for your sick kid, so you must call your doctor if you suspect strep.
What are the symptoms of strep throat?
Symptoms of strep throat are very similar to that of a virus. However, the combination of many symptoms may indicate that your child is suffering from a bacterial strep infection rather than a harmless virus. Strep throat symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swollen tonsils
- White pus
- Red spots in the mouth
- Loss of appetite
Additionally, toddlers may not communicate that their throat hurts, so keeping an eye out for these indicators will help you identify strep throat in toddlers under 2. If your child’s throat hurts, but their main symptoms are a runny nose, coughing, and hoarseness, then they are more likely suffering from a virus. But, it is always wise to call your in-person or virtual pediatrician for a second opinion.
Is strep throat contagious?
Yes, strep throat is highly contagious. Strep bacteria are spread through the air when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches surfaces with contaminated hands. This high rate of contagion is the main reason that strep affects younger age groups, specifically young children who attend school.
To avoid the spread of strep throat, you should teach your child proper hand washing techniques and other hygiene practices that will keep themselves and those around them from spreading or contracting the bacteria. Children who share food or share drinking cups are also at higher risk of spreading strep throat.
A sick child with strep throat should not return to school until they have been on medication and fever-free for 24 hours.
How is strep throat treated?
When you have good reason to believe that your child is suffering from strep throat, such as being exposed to the bacteria or having many symptoms, you should schedule a visit with an urgent care or virtual doctor as soon as possible. Early treatment and intervention will help eliminate the spread and get your child on their way to wellness quicker.
At a pediatric visit, the medical professional will ask about your child’s history and assess their physical symptoms. In most cases, if strep is assumed, they will swab the back of your child’s throat for a rapid strep test. This test is not painful but may cause your child to gag momentarily.
The doctor will develop a treatment plan for your child and explain it to your child, so they understand how to start feeling better. Having your child’s cooperation for getting over strep throat is vital, especially when they’re not feeling well. It is difficult for your child to comply if they are fussy or refuse their pediatrician’s advice.
Caring for a Child with Strep Throat
The first step to caring for a child with strep is to identify the condition and schedule a visit with a doctor. In many cases, it can be challenging to schedule a quick visit, take time away from work, and get your child in to see a board-certified pediatrician at the drop of a hat.
With our online pediatric services, you won’t have to rouse your child who doesn’t feel well to drag them out of the house anymore. Our team can give them the proper care and attention they need from the comfort of home after a quick consultation.
We will help if you suspect that your child may have untreated strep throat or would like to rule it out as a cause for your child’s sore throat. Schedule a visit with our kid doctors by calling (888).961.8885 today.