Sometimes, childhood seems like a near-endless progression of sore throats and runny noses. While your child often seems to shrug off these minor ailments, there’s one type of sore throat that requires more diligence.
Caused by group A streptococcus bacteria, strep throat isn’t associated with respiratory infections like the common cold or flu. While it’s often possible for a child’s immune system to clear the infection in 7 to 10 days, the pain from strep throat can be sharp and intense, and in rare cases, the infection can spread through the body, causing some potentially serious illnesses.
Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon MD recommends testing to confirm the presence of strep throat and then a course of antibiotics. Even though your child may feel better in a day and may no longer be at risk for infection complications, strep throat is an illness where the use of the full prescribed course of antibiotic is justified. Here’s why:
Recognizing strep throat
Because it’s a bacterial infection centered around the tonsils and back of the mouth, strep throat isn’t accompanied by mucus production or breathing issues. Perhaps its most distinguishing characteristic is its fast onset. There are often only a few hours between when a child feels fine to the stage where swallowing becomes painful and difficult.
You may notice that their tonsils are bright red and swollen. Red spots may also appear on the roof of the mouth, and the lymph nodes on the neck may appear swollen and tender when touched. Your child could have a fever and/or headache. they could also feel nauseous and achy all over. They won’t, however, have a runny nose.
Is strep throat serious?
In terms of the effects on your child’s throat, strep throat doesn’t cause lasting damage. Without treatment, they’ll experience severe symptoms, but the infection in the throat probably won’t last longer than two weeks.
The infection might not remain in the throat for long, but it can move through your body. While strep throat may not be serious, its potential complications can be very serious. Without treatment, your child faces a range of infections and inflammatory reactions that could have significant effects on their health.
Group A strep bacteria can spread from the throat and tonsils to other places. Any strep infection can progress into streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS). Common places for strep infections to spread include:
- The bloodstream
- Middle ear
STSS infections could lead to the failure of organs, including the kidneys, liver, and lungs.
Inflammatory reactions can emerge as scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, kidney inflammation or poststreptococcal reactive arthritis. Your child’s joints, heart, or nervous system could be affected by these complications.
As a strep throat specialist, Dr. Tandon performs rapid antigen tests for strep in the office. Upon confirming the presence of strep bacteria, Dr. Tandon typically prescribes oral antibiotics, which usually produce fast results. Despite this, it’s important to give your child medication until the end of the prescription to fully eradicate the infection.
Contact Dr 2 Kids, Smita Tandon MD, at the first hint of strep throat infection. You can reach the office by phone or online. The sooner your child starts treatment, the faster they’ll be back to their usual selves, so book an appointment now.