Strep Throat

Strep throat is an infection of the throat caused by a bacteria named Streptococcus pyogenes. Your caregiver may call the infection streptococcal "tonsillitis" or "pharyngitis" depending on whether there are signs of inflammation in the tonsils or back of the throat. Strep throat is most common in children from 5 to 15 years old during the cold months of the year, but it can occur in people of any age during any season. This infection is spread from person to person (contagious) through coughing, sneezing, or other close contact.

SYMPTOMS

  • Fever or chills.

  • Painful, swollen, red tonsils or throat.

  • Pain or difficulty when swallowing.

  • White or yellow spots on the tonsils or throat.

  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes or "glands" of the neck or under the jaw.

  • Red rash all over the body (rare).

DIAGNOSIS

Many different infections can cause the same symptoms. A test must be done to confirm the diagnosis so the right treatment can be given. A "rapid strep test" can help your caregiver make the diagnosis in a few minutes. If this test is not available, a light swab of the infected area can be used for a throat culture test. If a throat culture test is done, results are usually available in a day or two.

TREATMENT

Strep throat is treated with antibiotic medicine.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Gargle with 1 tsp of salt in 1 cup of warm water, 3 to 4 times per day or as needed for comfort.

  • Family members who also have a sore throat or fever should be tested for strep throat and treated with antibiotics if they have the strep infection.

  • Make sure everyone in your household washes their hands well.

  • Do not share food, drinking cups, or personal items that could cause the infection to spread to others.

  • You may need to eat a soft food diet until your sore throat gets better.

  • Drink enough water and fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. This will help prevent dehydration.

  • Get plenty of rest.

  • Stay home from school, daycare, or work until you have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • If antibiotics are prescribed, take them as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • The glands in your neck continue to enlarge.

  • You develop a rash, cough, or earache.

  • You cough up green, yellow-brown, or bloody sputum.

  • You have pain or discomfort not controlled by medicines.

  • Your problems seem to be getting worse rather than better.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • You develop any new symptoms such as vomiting, severe headache, stiff or painful neck, chest pain, shortness of breath, or trouble swallowing.

  • You develop severe throat pain, drooling, or changes in your voice.

  • You develop swelling of the neck, or the skin on the neck becomes red and tender.

  • You have a fever.

  • You develop signs of dehydration, such as fatigue, dry mouth, and decreased urination.

  • You become increasingly sleepy, or you cannot wake up completely.