After the holiday season it comes time for a new season… one of sickness. Unfortunately, one of the most common illnesses around this time of year is strep throat. To help kids stay healthy and avoid some of the risks […]
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Stressing about Strep Throat this Season?

by Jill Taylor on February 18, 2014

in Medical Information

throatAfter the holiday season it comes time for a new season… one of sickness. Unfortunately, one of the most common illnesses around this time of year is strep throat.

To help kids stay healthy and avoid some of the risks associated with strep throat, ­ Marilyn A. Brown, MD­­ a pediatrician at McLane Children’s Scott & White answers some common questions about strep. She sees children and adolescents at the Killeen Pediatric Clinic at Hemingway for checkups and a variety of conditions.

“My role is to identify illnesses, treat them and educate parents on safety and prevention as it relates to their child,” says Dr. Brown.

Does My Child Have Strep Throat?

One of the illnesses Dr. Brown and others commonly treat is strep throat. She educates parents, explaining that strep throat is caused by bacteria. The bacteria known as streptococcus pyogenes (Group A streptococcus) infect the throat and tonsils.

“Unfortunately, there is no single sign or symptom that reliably identifies strep throat infections,” says Dr. Brown. “The onset is usually abrupt.”

Some symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sand papery rash

All of these symptoms may accompany the sore throat in any combination.

“It is myth that you can diagnose a strep throat just by looking at the throat,” says Dr. Brown. “Many viruses can mimic many of the symptoms and features of a strep throat infection.”

Instead, she recommends the best way to determine whether your child has strep or not is by testing.  A quick visit to the doctor can help rule out other sicknesses to see if your child has strep throat. Dr. Brown says proper testing will also help doctors avoid giving unnecessary antibiotics for viral infections, as strep throat is a bacterial infection.

How Can I Help My Child Avoid Getting Strep Throat?

Dr. Brown says strep throat is spread by close contact with an infected person. The more your child is exposed to other children, or crowding as you would have in schools, it would increase transmission rates.

However, we have some tips for a healthy successful school year, and Dr. Brown recommends the age-old practice of good hand washing.

“The spread of strep throat can be reduced by good hand washing,” she says. “Children with sore throats should be seen by a doctor in order to determine whether the illness is strep throat.  Once a diagnosis of strep throat is made, that child should be kept home from work, school or day care until 24 hours after taking an antibiotic.”

Doctors treat strep throat with antibiotics, as they help to shorten the amount of time when your child can spread the disease to others. They may also help your child feel better faster.

If you’re wondering if your child is contagious, consider this—if your child is still having symptoms, he is contagious. After he’s seen the doctor and been on antibiotics for about 24 hours, your child may no longer be contagious. It is important to see a doctor and get treated with antibiotics for strep throat, because if not, he may stay contagious for weeks even after his symptoms are gone.

Visit our health library for more information about strep infections or strep throat.

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