Strep Throat

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Sore throats can be caused by bacteria (i.e. strep), a virus, allergens, environmental irritants (such as cigarette smoke) and post nasal drip.  The majority of sore throats are NOT caused by strep infection, but rather, a viral infection.

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria (called ‘Group A strep”).  It spreads through contact with droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough.  Strep throat is most common in children ages 5-15 years.

Common Symptoms of Strep Throat

  • Sudden onset of sore throat
  • Severe pain when swallowing
  • Fever (101 F or above)
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • Tiny red spots (petechiae) on the soft or hard palate (back of roof of mouth)
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting, abdominal pain
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck
  • Rough rash that feels like sandpaper

A viral sore throat does not require antibiotics.  The presence of pink eye, runny nose, cough, diarrhea, and hoarseness usually indicates your child does NOT have strep throat.

A strep test (throat swab) is needed to tell if your child has strep throat.  Just looking at their throat is not enough to make a diagnosis.

If the strep test is positive, a prescription for antibiotics will be necessary.  Your child should start feeling better within a day or two of beginning antibiotics.  Children with strep throat should stay home from school or daycare until they have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours.