Strep throat is an infection of the throat and tonsils caused by a bacteria called group A streptococcus, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes. This bacteria lives in the nose and throat. According to a pediatric care specialist, you can get the infection from someone sick with strep A bacteria or is a carrier of it.
Strep Throat Symptoms
A sore throat is the main sign you or your child has strep. However, colds and other viruses can also cause a sore throat. One way to tell the difference is that a virus will often cause a runny nose too mentioned by a pediatric care specialists.
With strep, the sore throat comes on quickly and is more likely to cause these other symptoms as well:
- a sudden fever, especially if it’s 101˚F (38˚C) or higher
- a sore, red throat with white patches
- a headache
- a loss of appetite
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- trouble swallowing
According to the pediatric care specialist, these symptoms typically develop within five days of exposure to the strep bacteria.
Strep Throat Causes
Like other infections, strep throat spreads through close contact. When sick people cough or sneeze, they release droplets that hold the bacteria into the air, says a pediatric care specialists. Therefore, you can infect yourself if you touch something a person with strep has coughed or sneezed upon and then brush your eyes, mouth, or nose with your hand. You can also get sick if you share a glass or other personal item with someone who has strep. Strep is most common in children and teens. However, adults sometimes get it too.
Strep Throat Diagnosis
Your pediatric care specialist will ask about your child’s symptoms. The only sure way to tell strep from viruses that cause a sore throat is with a test. There are two kinds:
- Rapid strep test: It can identify a case in just a few minutes. The doctor will gently hold down your child’s tongue with a depressor. Then, they will use a cotton swab to take a sample from the back of the throat. You’ll get the results in 20 minutes or less. If the test is positive, which means strep is there, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat it. If the test is negative, which means the strep bacteria could not be found, the doctor might send the sample to a lab for a follow-up that takes longer.
- Throat culture: The doctor will rub a swab over the throat and tonsils and send it to the lab. If your child has strep throat, streptococci bacteria will grow in it. It usually takes about two days to get results from a throat culture. It can confirm whether your child has strep throat or not.
Strep Throat Treatments and Home Care
Your pediatric care specialists will prescribe antibiotics to kill the bacteria that cause the infection. Most treatments last for about 10 days. The medicine can make your child’s symptoms go away faster and help prevent complications. Make sure your child takes all of the doses. Stopping the medicine too early can leave some bacteria alive. These can make your child sick again. Be sure to tell the doctor if your young one is allergic to any antibiotics.
There are many things you can do at home to lessen pain and make you feel more comfortable:
- Gargle with a mixture of a quarter-teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water.
- Suck on a throat lozenge or piece of hard candy. Don’t give small pieces of candy to children younger than 4.
- Throw out your toothbrush and use a new one.
- Drink warm liquids such as tea and broth and drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
- Suck on something cold such as an ice pop or ice chips.
- Choose soft foods that are easy to swallow, such as soups, applesauce, or oatmeal. Pass on orange juice and other drinks that have a lot of acids. They’ll sting.
- Honey can help ease pain and inflammation.
- Use a humidifier or saline nasal sprays to keep your airways moist, which will help you feel more comfortable.
- Get lots of rest so that your body can recover from the infection.
Take the prescription exactly as the doctor says to. Don’t stop taking medicine, even if you or your child feel better unless the doctor says to stop. You will start to feel better within a couple of days after beginning treatment for strep throat. If you don’t have a fever, you can return to work or school 24 hours after beginning the antibiotic.