Strep Throat in Children

Strep throat is a common bacterial infection that causes a sore throat in children and adults. Read on to learn more about strep throat. We will talk about symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

Don’t hesitate to contact After Hours Kids in Austin, Texas, for any concerns about your child’s health. Our skilled team is here to listen and provide expert care for your little ones. Book a consultation today for expert advice on dealing with common childhood illnesses like strep throat.

Understanding Strep Throat

Strep throat is a sore throat caused by the group A strep (GAS) bacteria. Strep bacteria are the cause of most bacterial infections that bring on a sore throat in children and teens.

Your child may need to take a course of antibiotics along with rest and drinking plenty of liquids during recovery. Most children can resume normal activities within a few days.

Identifying Symptoms of Strep Throat

The following symptoms could indicate that your child has strep throat:

  • Throat pain that comes on quickly and is more painful when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Painful or swollen neck glands (lymph nodes)
  • Red and swollen tonsils with white patches or streaks on them
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Red rash (with strep throat, it is called scarlet fever)

If your child has a sore throat, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have strep throat. Most sore throats are caused by viral infections. Your child probably has a viral infection if they also have cold-like symptoms such as runny nose or
pink eye. Your child won’t benefit from antibiotics if they have a viral infection and will get better on their own.

When children younger than 3 years old get infected with GAS bacteria, they usually don’t get strep throat. Instead, you will notice them becoming more fussy, have a poor appetite, and have a runny nose.

What Causes Strep Throat?

Strep throat is caused by the strep bacteria (GAS). The strep bacteria spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. If your child touches a contaminated surface and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes, they will likely get infected.

Infected children are contagious even before symptoms and can spread the infection for up to 3 weeks. Infection is most likely to spread when symptoms are at their peak. Antibiotic treatment will lower the chances of your child spreading the strep infection.

To help prevent your child from catching strep throat, teach them to wash their hands thoroughly and regularly, especially before meals.

Is Strep Throat Contagious?

Strep infections are highly contagious, particularly among school-age children and teenagers. The infection is most prevalent during the colder months when people spend more time indoors close together. Parents should be vigilant during these times and encourage proper hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette to reduce the spread of the illness.

How is Strep Throat Diagnosed?

If your child has a sore throat or other strep throat symptoms, then you should get a diagnosis from your doctor. Strep throat diagnosis can be achieved in 5 minutes using a rapid strep test. They will use a cotton swab to collect a fluid sample from the back of the throat.

Even if the test is not positive for a strep throat infection, your doctor may send for a throat culture if they think you have strep throat symptoms.

How to Treat Strep Throat

Strep throat treatment includes a course of antibiotic medicine for 10 days. Taking antibiotics will help treat the infection faster and stop the infection from spreading. Within 12 hours of taking antibiotics, your child’s fever should stop. Other symptoms should go away within 2 to 3 days.

Make sure your child continues the course of antibiotics until the end of the 10 days. Even if the symptoms disappear, the bacteria can still be there. If the strep infection returns to full strength, it can cause further health problems, such as rheumatic fever, kidney disease, and other infections within the body.

Complications Linked to Strep Throat

Serious complications linked to strep throat are rare. The risks of developing complications are higher with untreated strep throat or if the bacteria spread to other parts of the body.

Complications from strep throat can include:

  • Abscesses (pockets of pus) around the tonsils or in the neck
  • Sinus infections
  • Ear infections
  • Rheumatic fever (a disease that can affect the heart, joints, brain, and skin)
  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a kidney disease)

Schedule Your Child's Appointment Today

If you have concerns about whether your child might have strep throat or need professional guidance, feel free to contact us at After Hours Kids. Book an appointment now to guarantee that your child receives top care from our committed team of pediatric specialists in Austin, TX. Your child’s health and happiness are our foremost concerns.


AHK Advanced Practice Providers

Our AHK APP’s include: Annie Croft, Pam Dietrich, Erin Moore, and Nikki Nutter,