For many Nebraska families, school is officially in swing, and that means that kids will be around significantly more people, participating in more activities, and probably getting less sleep than they did over the summer. Fall also means that cold and flu season is right around the corner — if it’s not already upon us! One of the illnesses that is commonly contracted this time of year is strep throat, and we anticipate seeing cases rising steadily over the season.
What is Strep Throat? Common Symptoms
Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat typically caused by Group A Streptococcus. This infection is highly contagious, and oftentimes very uncomfortable. While sore throat can accompany other viral infections, strep throat often comes with other symptoms than throat pain.
Common symptoms for strep throat include:
- Sore throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Upset stomac
- Body aches and/or swollen lymph nodes in the neck
It’s important to note that white spots on the throat are not an automatic indication of strep throat. Viruses in general are known to cause white spots on the throat, so it’s not safe to assume that strep throat is the culprit based on this symptom alone. Small red spots at the back of the roof of the mouth, known as petechiae, can be seen with strep throat, and are a better indicator of this infection.
How to Get Rid of Strep Throat
Once you’ve made an appointment with your Nebraska primary care physician and gotten a diagnosis, the next question is: How to get rid of strep throat?
There is a lot of information out there telling people how to get rid of strep throat, but the simplest, most effective answer is:
A round of antibiotics!
Specifically, a penicillin antibiotic, such as amoxicillin, is the first-line therapy for strep throat. In the case of a penicillin allergy, your doctor has a few other options to prescribe. Patients often feel better within the first 24 hours of taking antibiotics.
When it comes to taking antibiotics for strep throat, there are a few rules to follow in order to ensure that you can get rid of it with the first round of medicine:
- Do not miss a dose of antibiotics
- Get a new toothbrush after 48 hours of antibiotics
- Complete all 10 days of antibiotics, even if symptoms dissipate before the end of the 10 day course
Soothing Strep Throat Symptoms
While patients do typically tend to feel better rather quickly once antibiotics are taken, strep throat can still make for a pretty miserable 24 hours — especially in kids. There are a few at-home remedies that have been known to ease the discomfort and painful symptoms of sore throat while you wait for antibiotics to reach effectiveness.
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen (at the direction of your doctor)
- Drinking plenty of water
- Gargling with salt water (for older children and adults)
- Using a humidifier
- Drinking warm liquids with honey (do not administer honey to children under 12 months)
How to Test for Strep Throat
At Nebraska Home Pediatrics & Parents, we can complete a rapid strep PCR test in the clinic and have final results available in about 30 minutes. There are some cases in which we need to send out a throat culture, but the vast majority of children can have a rapid strep PCR test completed to rule in or rule out strep throat.
Recurrent Strep Throat Causes
Few things are more frustrating than recurring cases of an illness. Strep throat is one of those infections that can easily be passed around from family member to family member if it goes undiagnosed in the family.
Recurrent strep throat can also be caused due to missed antibiotic doses or ongoing Group A Streptococcus circulation within a specific setting. If strep throat is recurring within your household, we recommend testing everyone and potentially treating all residents and family members. Parents of children who attend daycare and test positive for strep throat should notify daycare of the positive strep test so that the daycare facility can encourage parents of other sick children at the facility to be tested.
Book an Appointment
Call Nebraska Home Pediatrics & Parents at 402.917.6944 if you are worried you or your child might have strep throat and you need to schedule an appointment.