Kids and adults alike are all susceptible to strep throat. This highly contagious disease comes from a bacteria called group A Streptococcus.
Group A strep can actually live within the nose or throat without causing any sort of harm to its host. These bacteria only become a problem when they come into contact with an infected person.
This transfer can happen any time, and is quite easily spread through coughing, sneezing, sharing dishes or utensils, etc.
Symptoms of Strep
Since strep throat is a very common disease it is important to know its symptoms, which consist of:
- Sore throat
- Pain upon swallowing
- Very swollen tonsils that may also have white or yellow spots
- Small red spots, known as petechiae, located on the roof of the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes on one or both sides of the neck
- Stomach pain
- Nausea and vomiting
Although many patients report them as symptoms of strep, a cough, runny nose, and hoarseness all have nothing to do with strep throat. These are signs of another possible illness, which could be occurring along with a case of strep, but is not connected to strep in any way.
If you believe your child is sick with strep throat, schedule an appointment for a sick visit at Pediatrics West. Untreated cases of strep can develop to cause several serious health problems such as:
- Infection of the tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, or middle ear
- Scarlet fever
- Inflammation of the kidneys
- Rheumatic fever
Most doctors follow the same basic process when a patient comes in with a possible case of strep throat. First, they will conduct a rapid strep test.
A rapid strep test involves taking a swab from the back of your child’s throat and then testing this sample for substances that are associated with strep throat. Within minutes, the rapid strep test will show whether or not the patient has strep.
Some children can experience a false negative from their rapid strep test. If the results of the rapid strep test are inconclusive, then the physician will do a throat culture. A throat culture requires the same kind of swab from the back of your child’s throat, which is then placed in a petri dish for a couple of days. Over time, the sample may begin to grow inside of the petri dish, which concludes that the individual who provided the sample does indeed have strep throat.
Treatment for Strep Throat
Thankfully, strep throat is quite easy to treat using antibiotics. After 24 hours of taking these antibiotics, your child will no longer be contagious. This does not mean that you should stop giving your child the prescribed antibiotics.
In order to be fully effective and prevent your child’s strep throat from immediately returning, they must finish the entire supply of antibiotics prescribed to them. This period usually lasts for about 10 days.
It is also possible to relieve common symptoms of strep throat, particularly a sore throat, by taking over-the-counter medications such as anti-inflammatories. This will help reduce the swelling of the tonsils, which can make speaking and eating much more manageable.
How to Prevent Strep Throat
The best way to avoid catching strep throat from another person is to practice daily healthy habits, such as:
- Frequently washing your hands
- Staying hydrated
- Get plenty of sleep
- Utilizing a humidifier
- Gargle with salt water if you begin to notice any throat pain
- Consume foods that are easy to swallow
- Avoid potentially irritating substances like cigarette smoke or fumes from cleaning products
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