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Two Signs of Strep: February 4, 2014

It’s that time of year. The colder weather brings with it sore throats. In kids it can be a real pain in the neck.

“We definitely see a lot of strep. We see a lot of just inflamed tonsils or tonsillitis, but those two are the most common reason for sore throats,” says Dr. Denise Drago, pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.

Being more serious than a run-of-the-mill sore throat, strep should be looked at by a doctor. As a general rule, answering two questions may give parents some guidance in making the call.

“Strep tends to be more along the lines of ‘no coughing or congestion’ just really sore throat; high fever generally above 102,” says Dr. Drago.

So the two questions would be: does your child have cough or cold symptoms and have they had a fever in the last 24 hours? While fevers are a hallmark of strep infections, coughs are not.

“The majority of times, if you have a fever and you don’t have the other cough or cold symptoms that go along with a normal infection, most of the time its going to be strep,” says Dr. Drago.

To make sure they have the right diagnosis, pediatricians perform an in-office test.

“We’ll do a strep culture, a rapid test in the office and send out a confirmatory test just to make sure. But it is definitely important in treating strep throat with antibiotics,” says Dr. Drago.

Strep is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15. Although it’s a bacterial infection, strep is contagious. So plan on keeping your young one home from school.

“We say 24 hours of antibiotics, then we say you should be fever-free for about a day. So most of the times that ends up being one or two days of school that they miss,” says Dr. Drago.

Strep may also produce white patches in the throat and tonsils, but doctor’s say don’t use that as your barometer. When it doubt- check it out, with the help of a medical professional.