Though anyone can come down with strep throat, it's most common in 5- to 10-year-olds. Up to 20% of children may have a contagious infection even though they don't have symptoms. The team at Cardinal Pediatrics quickly determines if your child has a strep infection with a rapid strep test. Then they start treatment that eases the symptoms and heals their throat. If your child has a sore throat, don't wait to schedule an appointment. Call the office in Lowell or Chelmsford, Massachusetts, or go online to request a same-day sick visit.
Strep throat is named after the bacteria that causes this painful sore throat: streptococcus pyogenes. By comparison, most sore throats arise from the viral infection that causes a cold.
The strep bacteria is highly contagious. It spreads through the air and by direct contact. When an infected child talks, coughs, or sneezes, bacteria-infected droplets go airborne, and other children inhale the bacteria.
Additionally, an infected child may have the bacteria on their hands. Then the bacteria end up on anything they touch, whether toys, books, dishes, or another person.
Most people don't know when they spread the bacteria because strep is contagious before they have symptoms. It takes 2-5 days to get sick after you're exposed to the virus.
Strep throat usually appears suddenly and causes intense pain that makes it hard for your child to swallow.
Your child may also have symptoms such as:
It's important to schedule a same-day sick visit if your child has signs of strep throat. Strep infections can cause inflammatory diseases such as rheumatic fever and kidney inflammation without treatment.
Your Cardinal Pediatrics provider examines your child's throat and performs a rapid strep test. They swab a sample from your child's throat and in a few minutes, the test shows if strep bacteria are present.
If the rapid test is negative but your child's symptoms suggest a strep infection, they may take a second swab and do a throat culture.
Your provider prescribes antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. You can also give your child over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Your child is no longer contagious about 24 hours after they start antibiotics, and their symptoms should improve after several days on medication.
Though they start feeling better, they still need to take all of the medication. If they stop taking antibiotics before finishing all of the pills in the prescription, some bacteria may survive and cause another infection.
If your child has a sore throat, schedule a same-day sick visit at Cardinal Pediatrics. Call or book an appointment online today.
We offer pediatric care, physical exams, and newborn care located in Lowell, MA and Chelmsford, MA. Call us to book your appointment today.