Strep throat is a bacterial infection most common in children between the ages of 5-years-old and 15-years-old. It is also known as streptococcal pharyngitis. The main cause of the infection is Group A streptococcal bacteria, which infect the throat area, leading to various symptoms. It is the most common bacterial infection of the throat among this group age, but it can also affect those older than 15-years-old.
How do you know you have strep throat?
Symptoms of strep throat will often involve the throat although sometimes it can affect other regions of the body.
Watch out for this potential indicators:
- sore throat
- difficulty swallowing
- red, swollen tonsils
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- neck pain
- rash around the neck and throat
Besides these localized symptoms, your child may also experience flu-like symptoms like muscle aches, joint stiffness, fever, and chills. Because the symptoms can be very similar to those of the flu, strep throat is often differentiated by a sudden onset of the symptoms, almost all at once whereas flu symptoms gradually take effect.
These symptoms can also be different from one child to the other, with some experiencing severe symptoms and others just mild ones. Nevertheless, strep throat should not be ignored since the bacteria can be spread to other children, perhaps even re-infecting your child.
What do you do when you suspect strep throat?
Symptoms of sore throat show after two to five days, so think back to what your child was doing two to five days back. The bacteria is transmitted by contact with an infected person, so it might be possible your child was at school. To prevent further spread of the infection, keep your child away from their siblings as well as other kids as much as you can, then go see a pediatrician.
Diagnosis and treatment
The doctor will first check your child’s symptoms to determine whether it really is strep throat or just the flu. Sometimes, this initial diagnosis is enough, but other times they may request further tests. A rapid strep test involves taking a throat swab and testing it for the streptococcal bacteria. It usually takes a few minutes and the doctor can confirm if it really is strep throat.
Once confirmed, the primary treatment is done with antibiotics since it’s a bacterial infection. You will be prescribed some antibiotics which will help fight the infection. However, more and more bacteria are becoming resistant to some of the mild antibiotics, in which case they may be ineffective. Keep observing your child for two to three days after you start medication, and if the symptoms persist, contact your doctor so they can give stronger antibiotics.
Even though the medications can eliminate the bacteria, there are steps you can take as a parent to ensure the infection goes away even sooner.
- giving your child plenty of fluids like soup and tea
- gargling salt water can reduce the pain
- painkillers like ibuprofen will help reduce the pain of swallowing
- Strep throat is a bacterial infection most common in children between the ages of 5-years-old and 15-years-old.
- It rarely affects children older than 15-years-old.
- The bacteria is transmitted by contact with an infected person.