Strep throat is a common diagnosis that many parents and kids have to deal with. Some parents become so in tune to the symptoms, they know upon first complaint from their child that it is the cause. Strep throat is a more common diagnosis in children compared to adults. It is usually diagnosed in kids ranging in age from 5-15 years old. It is not common in children aged 3 and below, which is why it is rare for doctors to test for it at those ages.
Close contact with someone else who has strep throat is the most common factor for contagion. It can easily spread throughout your household and infect everyone in it.
Crowded places, such as schools and daycare centers tend to increase the risk of strep throat. In fact, the cause of a sore throat is due to strep in up to 3 in 10 children.
What causes Strep throat?
Viruses commonly cause a sore throat, but strep throat is an infection within the throat and tonsils from a bacteria known as Group A Streptococcus (or group A strep). Group A Strep is usually located in the nose and throat of your child, causing it to be easily spread to others. A simple cough or sneeze could easily spread this bacteria through respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria itself where it may infect those it comes into close proximity.
Your child could be infected if he or she:
- Inhales those bacteria-infected droplets
- Comes into contact with a surface that has those droplets on it, and touches any part of his/her face afterwards
- Shares drinks/foods with someone who is also infected
Here are some of the main symptoms of strep:
Even though strep throat is a mild infection, it can be painful. If your child has been infected, it takes about 2-5 days for your child to start feeling sick.
- Swollen tonsils that have reddened with or without white patches on them or pus
- Painful swallowing
- Lymph nodes become swollen
- Sore throat usually occurs quickly
Some other symptoms could be: headaches, nausea, stomach pain and vomiting. An infected person with strep may also have scarlet fever; a rash also known as scarlatina that is sand-paper like and can be widespread on the body.
Is it a virus or bacteria?
Here are some signs that could indicate a virus is the cause of the sore throat and not strep:
- A consistent cough
- Raspy, breathy, or a strained voice
- Pink eye
- A runny nose