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Does my child have strep throat?

Updated on June 3, 2011

Reoccuring Strep

Does my child have Strep?

Strep throat (streptococcus pharyngitis) is a bacteria that grows in the back of the throat. It can cause many different signs & symptoms such as:

  • Discomfort/Soreness in the throat (usually comes on suddenly )
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • High fevers (over 101.0 )
  • Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes (glands )
  • White or yellow patches (spots ) on the back of the throat
  • Back of throat is noticeably red (indicating infection )
  • Your child may also have a headache and belly pain.

  • Red skin rashes and vomiting or not feeling hungry, and body aches are less common symptoms of strep.

Ways to check for Strep:The way pediatricians check for strep is to take two small yet long wooden sticks that have cotton wrapped around the top (much like q-tips) and they swab the back of your child's throat in the office. The results could come back as early as 5-15 minutes if positive. If the test is negative the specimen is sent to a lab for a culture to determine if it is, in fact bacteria or viral. Viral infections will require no antibiotics, it will just have to take it's course.

Treatment for strep:Treatment for strep is fairly simple because your pediatrician will give your child some antibiotics that are usually given 2-3 times a day for 10 days. If the strep is reoccurring then they may refer you to a pediatric ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) doctor for possibly the removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids via surgery. If your child is running a fever, rotating between acetaminophen and ibuprofen every 4-6 hours until the fever is gone. (Check with you doctor to make sure that this is alright and the right dosage for your child.) Also be careful because the antibiotics may cause your child to have diarrhea, so again, make sure your child is getting enough fluids. Your child is no longer contagious once they have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.

When your child is positive for strep:Try to keep your child's activity level to a minimum like, resting in bed or on the couch watching T.V. (I know this is much easier said than done but try your best to have them rest.) Too much activity can make them feel much worse because the body is trying to fight an infection so if the activity level is too high, it will take much longer for them to get better. Try to feed you child only soft foods like ice cream, mashed potatoes, jello, etc... until your child is finished with all of the antibiotics, that way your sure the infection is gone. It is VERY important to make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids including water so they do not become dehydrated. (see below for signs and symptoms of dehydration) During this time you will want to watch and make sure your child is urinating enough, this will give you indications if they are getting enough fluids. If at any time you feel that your child is getting worse or you just have that parental "gut" feeling, then by all means call your pediatrician or go to the nearest hospital to make sure your child is alright.

Strep is harder to recognise in smaller children because they can not fully vocalize how they are feeling. Your child may also experience ear aches along with having strep because they are all sort of inner connected but not as a result of strep. As a mother myself, my 2 year old kept complaining about having a headache, didn't want to eat or drink, was very irritable and was running a fever or 103.2. At one point my pediatrician was thinking that my child had meningitis until he looked at his throat and noticed white spots. Not one child is the same as another, so just be aware of the symptoms and know what to look for. If you feel that you child is sick and over the counter medications are not helping then it's probably best to take your child to see their pediatrician. The symptoms listed above are symptoms for many other thing as well, so it's best to be on the safe side and get them checked out.

Just because dehydration is easy to miss in children, I am going to list the signs and symptoms in my blog. Dehydration causes 2.2 millions child deaths each year around the world. So please make sure to keep your child hydrated especially when they are sick.

Dehydration: Your body is made up of about two thirds of water. In an adult it takes more time to become dehydrated because we have larger bodies. With a child having such a small body fluids are lost much faster. So when a person becomes dehydrated, it means your fluid levels in your body have dropped below the two thirds needed.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Decreased urination or dry diapers
  • Sunken eyes
  • Irritability
  • Sunken soft spot (on babies check the front of the head)
  • No tears are produced when your child cries
  • Lips and mouth are dry
  • Lethargy (when your child shows decreased activity)

Prevention:Make sure that your child gets enough fluids especially when they're sick with any sort of vomiting, diarrhea, and fevers. Fluid is lost rapidly when these things happen to your child. Great choices of fluids to give your child are water, Pedialyte, Gatorade, or Sprite. Even though water replaces fluids, the other drinks can help replace electrolytes lost. Always give water but flip flop with the other drinks listed if available. When a child is vomiting, it may be hard to keep the liquids down. So for that, I say, give 1 ounce of water or sprite every 10-15 minutes until they're able to keep enough fluids in the body. If everything that you are doing to keep your child hydrated is not working, please call your pediatrician immediately or go to the nearest hospital/ urgent care center.

It is very important to know and recognize these signs because it could be life threatening for your child if left untreated.


The Encounter with Strep that I Experienced

There are many time that we as parents question, whether or not to bring our "mildly" sick child to the doctor. Well, I can tell you that as a mom of 4 children all under the age of 8, I feel like I live at our pediatricians office. I have big allergy problem with my children so if things get bad enough, their throats get sore. In June of 2010, after seeing my 2 year old son (my third child) run a 2 week course with his allergies he started spiking fevers of 103 and became super irritable. Of course a 2 year old with a fever that high is not normal. So I took him to the doctor (thank goodness I have great pediatricians) and they wanted to swab his throat to check for strep because they noticed white spots near the back of this throat. They took two swabs that look like very long q-tips and rubbed it against the back of his throat where the white spots were. Then a few minutes later, with the good grace of a rapid strep test, the results came back positive. The doctor also noticed that he had an ear infection in both ears. So the doctor sent us home with a prescription for oral antibiotics and ear drops. Once my son started taking the medicine along with ibuprofen and acetaminophen for the fevers, he was doing well within about 24 hours. Once the medication was finished he went back to being himself completely.

Two weeks after finishing the medications, he started to feel sick again. With the symptoms being the same as they were 3 1/2 weeks prior, I took him back to the doctor. Just my luck, he was sick with the same exact things again, strep throat and double ear infections. Again, he took his medication (only this time the doctor game him stronger antibiotics) and he was feeling much better within 24 hours of starting his medication. I was getting concerned by this point because it seems odd that a 2 year old would get strep twice in 2 months. My doctor told me that because the weather had been crazy this past year, she was seeing strep a lot more because the bacteria wasn't dying off and kept spreading from child to child. I figured that with my son being on antibiotics so much it was surely a thing of the past for us. Boy was I wrong! 2 months later the much dreaded strep had made it's way back into my sons throat. Only this time it was back with avenges! The pediatrician had noticed an what looked like an abscess that had made it's debut in his tiny little throat. To be sure of the abscess, the doctor had us go straight from her office to the hospital to get a CT scan. I was forwarded that if it was in fact an abscess that he would be admitted to the hospital and administered IV antibiotics. As a parent I was freaking out but did a great job at hiding it from my little one. We arrived at the hospital and were seen almost immediately and the scan was performed. My little trooper did great and we waited about 45 minutes for the results. He did in fact have an abscess and we were admitted to the children's hospital for 2 days. While there, we met his pediatric ENT who said that he feels it would be in the best interest of my child to have his tonsils, and adenoids removed as well as having tubes placed in his ears. Again, this scared me as a parent but wanted him to get back to being a normal 2 year old. We scheduled his surgery for the earliest date that my husband and I could be off of work.

In November of 2010, the surgery date came and I was in tears to have to see my 2 year old get all of this done. In order to make sure that my son did not freak out when they took him back to surgery they gave him versed to help him stay calm. That was the highlight of this whole traumatic event, he was acting hysterical on the medication. (Below is a video of him on the versed, it was a riot!) The surgery took only 45 minutes and that was it. His recovery was wonderful! It almost seemed as if he did not even have surgery. He didn't eat a lot in the first 7 days but we were able to keep plenty of liquids in him. He fully recovered within 3 weeks and he is doing great as I sit here typing this. The only bad thing about the procedures is the tube in his ears. He will not be able to submerse his ears under water for about 2 years, depending on when the tubes fall out.

My 2 oldest boys, ages 6 and 8 have gone through almost the same thing as my 2 year old except there was no hospital stay or tubes in the ears.. They had gotten strep 3 times within the months of February and March of 2011. With my youngest son having been through all of this already, the ENT said lets not risk the boys getting more and more sick and suggested we get their tonsils and adenoids removed as well. I had asked if they had a 2 for 1 special and sadly they did not. :) None the less April 6th, 2011, just 10 days after I am writing this they had their surgery. So far they are doing just as fantastic as my 2 year old had.

So if you doctor suggests that your child should get their tonsils and adenoids out and even the placement of the tubes in the ears, you should really consider doing it. It is a very common surgery but with all surgical procedures, there will always be risks involved. Best of luck to all of you out there that are, will, or have been in this situation. I also hope that you found the information that I have posted helpful in learning a little more about strep throat. Thank you for visiting my page!

This is my 2 year old with his dad on the drug versed

My 2 oldest boys on surgery day

This was post op.
This was post op.

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