Strep throat, also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, is an infection caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep). Strep usually causes a sore throat or painful tonsils in children. However, other symptoms that can be seen with strep throat include:
· Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
· Abdominal pain
This infection is very common in children and can be transmitted by contact with the mucus of someone else with a strep infection through coughing or sneezing, especially in crowded conditions. Hence, why it can be contagious for children in school or daycare centers.
Throat infections also can be caused by viruses, which cannot be treated by antibiotics. As a result, a rapid strep test or throat culture performed by your doctor can determine if group A strep is the cause of a throat infection. When diagnosed, it is advised that the child remain home until 12 hours after starting antibiotics and the child no longer has a fever.
Treatment with an antibiotic is very important to reduce complications that may result from prolonged infection. These complications can involve:
· The heart (e.g. rheumatic fever)
· The kidneys (e.g. post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis)
· Ear infections
Oral antibiotics are the gold standard for treatment. Examples of antibiotics that may be prescribed by your pediatrician may be amoxicillin, cephalexin or azithromycin. It is important to complete the course of antibiotics, even if the child feels better before the antibiotics are finished. This decreases the risk of reinfection or complications.
Ibuprofen and acetaminophen are usually recommended as well to control pain and discomfort. Patients may have a decreased appetite because of the pain associated with swallowing. However, it is very important for them to stay hydrated with lots of fluids.
A child with strep throat should begin feeling better within a day or two after starting antibiotics. If the child is not feeling better after taking antibiotics for 48 hours, call your doctor immediately.
The best way to prevent getting or spreading group A strep is to wash your hands often. It is important to teach children good hand hygiene at home and in school. If you have any questions about the treatment of your child, your pediatrician is the best source for answers.
If your child is experiencing signs or symptoms of strep throat, board-certified pediatrician Ijeoma Oguagha, MD, is accepting new patients at UT Health East Texas Physicians in Carthage. For more information, visit uthealtheasttexas.com/provider/ijeoma-oguagha-md or call 903-694-4650.