Fall and winter are prime times for kids to get ear, nose and throat illnesses. Colds and sore throats are common, and they can happen when least expected. But how can you tell if your child’s sore throat is a signal of a common cold or a more serious strep throat symptom?
What Is Strep Throat?
Though strep throat is a common bacterial infection that can affect adults, it is mostly seen in children ages 5 through 15. A communicable disease, strep is generally spread by close contact with others who are already infected. A simple droplet from a sneeze or cough can be enough to pass it from one person to the next.
Many people misunderstand the facts about strep, thinking it can be avoided by removing their kid’s tonsils. The truth is, you can get strep without tonsils. Removing your tonsils will greatly reduce the chances of getting strep, but it is not a guarantee your child will not come down with strep throat at some point.
Is This a Strep Throat Symptom?
Strep is a mild disease that can pack a painful punch. Because the symptoms are similar to other illnesses, many people wonder, “What does strep throat look like?”. The most common strep throat symptoms include:
- Fever over 101 degrees
- Bright or dark red spots on or near the roof of the mouth
- White spots or yellow coating in the throat
Some strep throat symptoms may get confused with signs of a typical sore throat. A fever less than 101, for example, may point to a milder viral infection, not strep. The soreness in the throat may actually be a symptom of inflammation in the throat; strep causes swelling in the tonsils and areas surrounding them. This can be very difficult to diagnose solely by sight or based on pain in the neck and throat.
One of the best ways to determine if your child has strep throat versus a sore throat is to seek help from a medical professional. Primary providers, providers who offer nighttime pediatrics or providers at an urgent care can accurately diagnose your child’s symptoms with one of several strep tests. Once it is confirmed your child has strep, antibiotics may be the key to a quicker return to health, as well as a faster way to reduce the spread of the infection to others.
To prevent strep from spreading to others, kids should be encouraged to cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing and wash their hands often. Parents should keep them out of school until strep throat symptoms are no longer present, any fever has subsided, and they have had antibiotics in their system for at least 24 hours.
If you think your child’s sore throat may be a strep throat symptom, contact us immediately. Our expert providers are available and ready to properly diagnose your child and extend the proper professional care to your family.