Strep Throat: What Parents Should Know

Strep Throat Exam at Idaho Falls urgent care

One of the toughest parts of being a parent is when your child is suffering and you don’t know how to help them. When it comes to their physical health, it can be easy for this to happen because it can be difficult to determine what is causing their symptoms. One issue that has been in our clinic a lot recently is strep throat. Here’s what a parent needs to know about strep throat in order to help their child.

What Is Strep Throat?

It is an infection that is caused by bacteria. If your child has a sore throat, there is a pretty good chance that it is caused by this bacteria (about a 1/3 chance). Most cases need to be treated with antibiotics in addition to rest and lots of fluids. This combination should have your child feeling better in a few days.

Signs And Symptoms

Here are the signs to look for when determining whether your child is dealing with strep throat.

  • Sore throat that starts quickly
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck

Additional symptoms that may appear when a child has strep throat include:

  • headache
  • stomach pain
  • general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
  • loss of appetite
  • nausea
  • rash

Some signs that do not usually come with a case of strep throat are:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Hoarseness
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

Signs and Symptoms of Strep Throat Infographics

More Strep Throat Questions

  • How Is It Diagnosed? — Strep throat is frequently diagnosed with a rapid strep test. This involves using a cotton swab to take a sample of the fluids in the back of the child’s throat. This test can be done in just 20 minutes.
  • Is it Contagious? — Yes. Strep throat is highly contagious and the majority of cases are with kids of all ages. It is a common ailment during the school year when so many kids are spending so much time in the same places.
  • How Do You Get It? — Strep throat bacteria is commonly found in your child’s nose and/or throat. It is passed from person to person when someone sneezes, coughs, or through touch from one person to another. When cases of strep throat go untreated, kids can pass it along to others for a couple of weeks. This is where hand washing becomes so important. Teaching your child to wash their hands often will greatly decrease their chances of getting strep throat and of passing it to others.
  • How To Treat It? — The antibiotics for strep throat will last for about 10 days. Symptoms like their fever should begin to go away after about 24 hours of starting the antibiotics. Your child also won’t be contagious at that point. You can expect the remaining symptoms for your child to go away after 2-3 days but they need to complete taking their antibiotics as directed. Failure to do this can let the bacteria stay in their throat and may lead to the symptoms coming back.

How To Help Your Child

When you have a child that is suffering from strep throat, there are some things that you can do at home to help them feel a little better. The biggest way to help them is to make sure that they get plenty of fluids and avoid dehydration. Water is always a good choice.  Warm liquid like hot chocolate or soup can also help. Drinks that are acidic will likely irritate their throat so avoid things like orange juice and lemonade.

When you have a sick child in your home it is always important to do as much as possible to prevent the illness from spreading to other people. Here are some things you can do to prevent strep throat from spreading.

  • Keep their cups and eating utensils separate from everyone else and wash them right after they have been used.
  • Do not let them share anything that may have their germs. This would include food and drinks, towels, etc.
  • Teach them (and remind them frequently) to cover their mouth whenever they sneeze or cough. Ideally, with a tissue. Their sleeve would be the next best option. The last resort should be their hands and an immediate hand-washing.
  • Hand-washing isn’t just for the sick child. Everyone should be doing this frequently.
  • Once they are no longer in the contagious stage, throw their toothbrush away and give them a fresh one.

Remember, many sore throats are not strep throat and are caused by a virus. In these cases, they will usually heal on their own without needing medical treatment. But if your child does have a case of strep throat, they should be able to return to school after they have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours and their fever is gone.

Just 4 Kids Urgent Care

We hope this will help you understand what strep throat is, how to deal with it, and preventative measures to take. As always, please give us a call, text or come and see us if you have any questions about what is ailing your child or how to keep your kids healthy. 


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