Strep Throat

Strep throat is an infection caused by the streptococcus (strep) germ. Children who have a strep infection are at risk for heart and kidney diseases. A child with strep may have a sore throat, swollen glands, fever, a headache, or a stomach ache. Sometimes the throat is so sore that a child has trouble swallowing and does not want to eat. A child may also have no symptoms.

How can you tell if my child has strep? How will my child be treated?

Your child will take an antibiotic for 10 days to kill the strep infection. Follow the directions on the bottle for how much medication to give and how often to give it. Your child should feel better within 48 hours. Make sure you give all the medicine because it takes 10 days of treatment to fully kill the strep germ and to prevent the development of heart disease.
Give your child acetaminophen (Tylenol or Tempra) for sore throat and fever.
An older child may find gargling with warm salt water to be soothing for a sore throat. (To make the salt water, mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt with 1 cup of warm water.)
Give your child plenty of cool "liquid" foods, such as popsicles, jello, and ice cream.

What else do I need to know and do about strep?

Strep is contagious. It spreads by close contact with persons who have the germ. Strep often spreads to other family members, classmates, and children at day care. Your child will no longer be contagious 24 hours after starting the antibiotic. If your child feels better and does not have a fever, he or she may go back to school after 24 hours.
Tell your child's school and friends about the strep. Anyone with a sore throat should be checked for strep. You do not need a throat culture if you feel okay.

When should I call the doctor?

Call the doctor if you have questions or if your child has any of the following:

  • Drooling
  • Trouble breathing
  • A fever after taking the antibiotic for 2 days
  • A rash
  • Blood in urine or swelling of the face, legs or hands
  • Is not eating, drinking or urinating

Source: Mosby's Pediatric Patient Teaching Guides, Mosby-Year Book, Inc.

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