Strep Throat 101

strep throatIf your child has ever been diagnosed with strep throat, you know how misleading the symptoms may be. Even if your child has had strep throat more than once, each time the signs and symptoms can vary, making it hard to diagnose without making a trip to the doctor’s office. If you think your child may have strep throat, it’s important to seek medical attention so you can properly diagnose your child’s illness. A recent Mayo Clinic report emphasizes the importance of a proper diagnosis and also indicates strep throat symptoms and treatments.

Often, a child with strep throat seems fine one minute and then starts to complain of a sore throat the next. Step throat causes sudden, intense throat pain as well as painful swallowing. If your “good eater” starts complaining about a sore throat and then stops wanting to eat (or even drink), it’s a good indication he/she may have strep throat. You may also notice tiny red spots in the back of the throat and the roof of the mouth and swollen lymph nodes too. Fever is also a common symptom of strep throat.

Symptoms that may not seem to be associated with strep throat but can also help you identify the illness include headache, rash, nausea, belly and body aches. Parents sometimes think that their child is coming down with the flu, but really they are suffering from strep throat instead. Your child may also be suffering from a viral infection or other illness, making strep throat tricky to diagnose without a doctor’s visit. It’s possible to have many of the symptoms listed here and end up with a treatment plan for a viral infection that only includes rest, ibuprofen, and fluids. Thankfully, that’s why doctors can test specifically for strep throat when a child comes into the office with comparable aches and pains.

After a consultation with Dr. Kellow or Dr. Shaw or a member of their team, a physical exam will be conducted. A test called a Rapid Antigen Test takes a swab sample of your child’s throat to see if the strep virus can be detected. This generally happens quickly and effortlessly. If the test is negative, Dr. Kellow or Dr. Shaw may just watch the child for a few days or if symptoms persist, a throat culture will be taken. This usually causes the gag reflex because the sterile swab is rubbed over the back (and tonsils) of the throat. Often, parents ease a child’s nerves about this procedure by having them sit on their lap, hold their hand, and/or have a cool drink to sip right after to ease the discomfort. If it’s confirmed that your child has the strep throat, medications are available to cure the illness and relieve symptoms to help your child feel better fast and stop the spread of this disease.

Antibiotics are used to treat strep throat, and within 48 hours your child will start to feel better and the severity of symptoms will diminish. If, after 48 hours you are not noticing improvement, it’s important to call the offices of Childcare Physician’s to determine the next step. Children on antibiotics can usually return to school in 24 hours because they will no longer be contagious. Your doctor may also recommend the use of ibuprofen (Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help with the aches and pains and reduce fever, if there is any. Fortunately, once your child is diagnosed with step throat and treated, he/she will soon be feeling good again and back to a normal routine in no time.

If you believe your child is suffering from strep throat, please call the Association of Childcare Physicians immediately so Dr. Kellow or Dr. Shaw can properly diagnose and treat your infant or toddler. By acting quickly, you help stop the spread of this contagious disease and get your child back to optimum health.