Strep Throat

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is an infection of the throat caused by a bacteria called Group A Strep. The bacteria can be spread via airborne droplets or saliva such as when sharing food or drinks.

Signs and symptoms of strep throat can include:

  • Throat pain and painful swallowing  
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Red spots on the roof of the mouth or palate
  • Swollen and red tonsils, on occasion white patches
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting and abdominal pain  
  • A fine sandpaper-like rash, also known as scarlet fever

Strep throat is not usually associated with viral symptoms such as a runny nose, cough, or diarrhea. You can wait a day or two to see if these symptoms develop.  

Testing and diagnosis for strep throat

If your child has signs and symptoms of strep throat, a throat swab may be performed in the office. A rapid test can help determine if your child has strep throat. If the test in negative, a strep culture is send to the laboratory for confirmation. It takes a few days for culture results to return from the lab. Giving medicine for relieving pain or fever will not affect the result of a strep test.

Treatment for strep throat

Strep throat is treated with an antibiotic. Taking the antibiotic helps prevent spread to others, and more importantly prevents complications of strep throat.

Preventable complications include rheumatic fever (this can affect the heart) and abscesses (pus pocket in or around the tonsils).

Talk to your child’s doctor to determine when they can return to school once they start taking their antibiotic. 

Reviewed by Chun H. Yin, MD, FAAP, Naline Lai, MD, FAAP, Julie Kardos, MD, FAAP

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