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  • Select from over 100 symptoms to read more about managing your child's illness.

    Is Your Child Sick? TM


    Strep Throat Infection

    Is this your child's symptom?

    • Your child was diagnosed with a Strep throat infection
    • A doctor has told you your child probably has Strep throat or
    • Your child has a positive Strep test
    • Your child is taking an antibiotic for Strep throat and you have questions
    • You are worried that the fever or sore throat is not getting better fast enough

    If NOT, try one of these:


    Symptoms of Strep Throat Infection

    • Pain, discomfort or raw feeling of the throat
    • Pain is made worse when swallows
    • Children less than 2 years of age usually can't complain about a sore throat. A young child who does not want favorite foods may have a sore throat. They may also start to cry during feedings.
    • Other symptoms include sore throat, fever, headache, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.
    • Cough, hoarseness, red eyes, and runny nose are not seen with Strep throat. These symptoms point more to a viral cause.
    • Scarlet fever rash (fine, red, sandpaper-like rash) is highly suggestive of Strep throat.
    • If you look at the throat with a light, it will be bright red. The tonsil will be red and swollen, often covered with pus.
    • Peak age: 5 to 15 years old. Not common under 2 years old unless sibling has Strep.

    Cause of Strep Throat

    • Group A Strep is the only common bacterial cause of a throat infection. The medical name is Strep pharyngitis.
    • It accounts for 20% of sore throats with fever.
    • Any infection of the throat usually also involves the tonsils. The medical name is Strep tonsillitis.

    Diagnosis of Strep Throat

    • Diagnosis can be confirmed by a Strep test on a sample of throat secretions.
    • There is no risk from waiting until a Strep test can be done.
    • If your child has cold symptoms too, a Strep test is usually not needed.

    Prevention of Spread to Others

    • Good hand washing can prevent spread of infection.

    When to Call for Strep Throat Infection

    When to Call for Strep Throat Infection

    Call 911 Now

    • Severe trouble breathing (struggling for each breath, can barely speak or cry)
    • Fainted or too weak to stand
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

    • Trouble breathing, but not severe
    • Great trouble swallowing fluids or spit
    • Stiff neck or can't move neck like normal
    • Dehydration suspected. No urine in more than 8 hours, dark urine, very dry mouth and no tears.
    • Purple or blood-colored spots or dots on skin
    • Fever over 104° F (40° C)
    • Will not drink or drinks very little for more than 8 hours
    • Can't open mouth all the way
    • Your child looks or acts very sick
    • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • Urine is pink or tea (brown) color
    • Taking antibiotic more than 24 hours, and sore throat pain is severe. (The pain is not better 2 hours after taking pain medicines)
    • Taking antibiotic more than 48 hours and fever still there or comes back
    • Taking antibiotic more than 3 days and other Strep symptoms not better
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Strep throat infection on antibiotic with no complications

    Call 911 Now

    • Severe trouble breathing (struggling for each breath, can barely speak or cry)
    • Fainted or too weak to stand
    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

    • Trouble breathing, but not severe
    • Great trouble swallowing fluids or spit
    • Stiff neck or can't move neck like normal
    • Dehydration suspected. No urine in more than 8 hours, dark urine, very dry mouth and no tears.
    • Purple or blood-colored spots or dots on skin
    • Fever over 104° F (40° C)
    • Will not drink or drinks very little for more than 8 hours
    • Can't open mouth all the way
    • Your child looks or acts very sick
    • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • Urine is pink or tea (brown) color
    • Taking antibiotic more than 24 hours, and sore throat pain is severe. (The pain is not better 2 hours after taking pain medicines)
    • Taking antibiotic more than 48 hours and fever still there or comes back
    • Taking antibiotic more than 3 days and other Strep symptoms not better
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Strep throat infection on antibiotic with no complications

    Care Advice for a Strep Throat Infection

    1. What You Should Know About Strep Throat:
      • Strep causes 20% of throat and tonsil infections in school age children.
      • Viral infections cause the rest.
      • Strep throat is easy to treat with an antibiotic.
      • Complications are rare.
      • Here is some care advice that should help.
    2. Antibiotic by Mouth:
      • Strep infections need a prescription for an antibiotic.
      • The antibiotic will kill the bacteria that are causing the Strep throat infection.
      • Give the antibiotic as directed.
      • Try not to forget any of the doses.
      • Give the antibiotic until it is gone. Reason: To stop the Strep infection from flaring up again.
    3. Sore Throat Pain Relief:
      • Age over 1 year. Can sip warm fluids such as chicken broth or apple juice.
      • Age over 6 years. Can also suck on hard candy or lollipops. Butterscotch seems to help.
      • Age over 8 years. Can also gargle. Use warm water with a little table salt added. A liquid antacid can be added instead of salt. Use Mylanta or the store brand. No prescription is needed.
      • Medicated throat sprays or lozenges are generally not helpful.
    4. Pain Medicine:
      • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
      • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
      • Use as needed.
    5. Fever Medicine:
      • For fevers above 102° F (39° C), give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
      • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
      • Note: Fevers less than 102° F (39° C) are important for fighting infections.
      • For all fevers: Keep your child well hydrated. Give lots of cold fluids.
    6. Fluids and Soft Diet:
      • Try to get your child to drink adequate fluids.
      • Goal: Keep your child well hydrated.
      • Cold drinks, milk shakes, popsicles, slushes, and sherbet are good choices.
      • Solids. Offer a soft diet. Also avoid foods that need much chewing. Avoid citrus, salty, or spicy foods. Note: Fluid intake is much more important than eating any solids.
      • Swollen tonsils can make some solid foods hard to swallow. Cut food into smaller pieces.
    7. What to Expect:
      • Strep throat responds quickly to antibiotics.
      • The fever is usually gone by 24 hours.
      • The sore throat starts to feel better by 48 hours.
    8. Return to School:
      • Your child can return to school after the fever is gone.
      • Your child should feel well enough to join in normal activities.
      • Children with Strep throat need to be taking an antibiotic for 24 hours.
    9. Call Your Doctor If:
      • Trouble breathing or drooling occurs
      • Dehydration suspected
      • Fever lasts more than 2 days after starting antibiotics
      • Sore throat lasts more than 3 days after starting antibiotics
      • You think your child needs to be seen
      • Your child becomes worse

    And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

    Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

    Copyright 2000-2018. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.