Sore Throat or Strep Throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat and the tonsils. The throat gets irritated and inflamed, causing a sudden, severe sore throat.
Strep throat is caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. There are many different types of strep bacteria. The one that causes strep throat is called Group A strep.
If your child has strep throat, s/he will need to take an antibiotic, which will kill the strep bacteria. Getting your child on an antibiotic after a positive strep test is important as strep throat can get worse and cause problems with other parts of the body. For example, untreated strep can cause arthritis or heart problems from a disease called rheumatic fever.
After taking the medicine for 24 hours, your child will feel much better and will no longer be contagious. It is very important to finish the full course of the antibiotic to kill the infection.
Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat
Not all sore throats are strep throats. Most episodes of sore throat — which can be accompanied by a runny nose, cough, hoarseness, and red eyes — are caused by viruses and usually clear up on their own without medical treatment.
Strep throat infections usually do not cause runny nose, nasal congestion or cough. A child with strep throat may start to develop other symptoms, such as:
- Red and white patches in the throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tender or swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
- Red and enlarged tonsils
- Lower stomach pain
- General discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- Loss of appetite and nausea
How Strep Throat Spreads
Strep throat is spread when healthy people come into contact with someone who has it. The bacteria can spread to you when a person with strep throat sneezes or blows his or her nose and you are nearby, or if you share the same forks, spoons or straws.
That's why it's so important to teach children the importance of hand washing — good hygiene can lessen their chances of getting contagious diseases like strep throat.