Do You Want To Have Strep Throat?

1 Jun


Your child has a sore throat…”Oh, I hope it’s not strep.”  Or do you?

Strep throat is one of the more common diagnoses we make in the office.  It’s probably right up there with ear infections on the most common list.  

What are the symptoms of strep?

  • Sore throat (obviously, but the child doesn’t always complain of it, believe or not)
  • Fever (sometimes)
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Rash (a real fine, sand paper type rash over the whole body)
  • Swollen lymph nodes (big painful lumps on the sides of the neck)

How do we test for strep?

A simple office test can be run to test a child for strep.  It takes total of about 6 minutes to run and is pretty accurate for the diagnosis.  Of course, it requires taking a sample of the back of the child’s throat with a QTip and this tends to cause a lot of anxiety (for the child and parent).

Even with all of the symptoms above there will still be a large number of children who don’t test positive for strep.  These children typically have a viral throat infection that can be caused by about a dozen different viruses.  Their symptoms will usually resolve in about 3-5 days without treatment.  Another common disease that looks like strep is mono.  You can read an entire post about mono here: OK, Who’d You Kiss? Mononucleosis.

How do we treat strep?

Strep throat is treated with antibiotics (usually a penicillin like amoxicillin or cephalexin).  Symptoms would eventually go away on their own but treatment decreases the time that a child has symptoms and the time that they are spreading germs to their classmates/brothers/sisters.  There are also some rare complications like rheumatic fever that can be prevented by treating with antibiotics.  

In my experience, children who have strep and get started on antibiotics feel better very quickly (usually after just a dose or two) and are ready to return to school in 24 hours.

So, what should I pray for while the strep test is pending?

Well, that’s completely up to you because I don’t really care but here’s the things to think about.  If your child is running fever or feeling bad enough that they can’t go to school and they have strep, you get antibiotics and they are likely back to school in 1-2 days.  If they have a virus, you get nothing but “grandma care” (fluids, tylenol, Motrin and chicken soup) and there’s a chance they won’t be better for 3-5 days…Your choice and good luck!


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