Strep Throat: The Dreaded Sore Throat for Both Parents and Children

By Carolina Boyd, Communications Associate

Sore throats are a common childhood ailment, especially during the cooler weather months. Most of the time, there is not much for parents to worry about but occasionally a sore throat can be the first sign of a more serious condition known as strep throat.

“Strep throat is caused by bacteria (known as group A Streptococcus) that live in the nose and throat. When an infected person coughs or sneezes small respiratory droplets, containing strep, can travel from one person to the next,” said Dr. Pathik Desai, Family Medicine Physician at Legacy Community Health. “This transfer can be either direct or indirect. When you cough and someone else inhales those droplets that is an example of direct contact. Indirect contact is when you cough on a surface and bacteria is picked up by another person who then touches their eyes, nose or mouth and become infected”

The symptoms for strep throat include fever, headache, swollen glands and/or nausea and vomiting. Children with strep throat do not typically have traditional cold-like symptoms of a running nose and cough.

“Colds and strep may have some similar symptoms but are treated differently. For example, they both can cause sore throat,” said Desai. “Usually, a sore throat from a cold improves quickly and goes away within a couple days with the help of over-the-counter medications. On the other hand, strep throat can worsen over time if not treated with antibiotics.”

In order to diagnose strep throat, a medical provider collects a throat sample for testing. A “positive” test means your child has strep throat. If the rapid strep test screen is negative and the doctor still suspects strep, a follow-up test may be given.

“If your child is suffering from strep throat, seek medical help. A doctor can assess the severity of the infection and prescribe antibiotics accordingly,” said Desai. “Antibiotic use in a bacterial infection can help to reduce the duration of the illness and the severity of symptoms. It also helps prevent the spread of the bacteria.”

Ways to prevent the spread of strep include:

  • Frequent hand washing with soap and/or hand sanitizer.
  • Cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Do not share drinking cups or eating utensils.
  • Keep your child away from others until fever goes down.

If your child is suffering from a sore throat or any other concerning symptom, contact your Legacy Community Health provider. Schedule an appointment on our website or by calling 832-548-5000.