Strep Throat - also known as Strep A - is an infection of the throat that can cause a lot of problems, especially for children. Complications tend to be rare but when they occur they can have serious consequences. Protecting your child against Strep A, and knowing the signs to look out for, are essential as Strep Throat can seem like any other seasonal illness at first.
What is Strep Throat?
It is an infection of the nose and throat by Group A Streptococcus bacteria. It is easily spread by others who have become sick with the Strep A bacteria or who are a carrier. When someone coughs or sneezes they release infected droplets into the air and when these reach the eyes, nose or mouth of another person the bacteria can spread. Adults can get Strep Throat but it tends to be most common in children and teens.
What are the symptoms?
The first sign is a sore throat - it can be difficult to distinguish between Strep Throat and other seasonal illnesses because all share this common symptom. Note that Strep Throat will come on quickly and the sore throat is unlikely to be accompanied by a runny nose or a cough, as might be the case with something like a seasonal virus. Other symptoms that might indicate Strep Throat include red and swollen tonsils, pain when swallowing, a fever, headache, stomachache, white patches on the tonsils, swollen lymph nodes and a rash.
How is Strep Throat treated?
If you’re worried that your child might have Strep Throat then it’s a good idea to get a test. A doctor can do a rapid test in just 20 minutes with a swab - or send a sample off to a lab if necessary. Strep Throat is treated with antibiotics, which are used to kill off the bacteria that is causing the problem. It’s really important to make sure that your child takes the full dose of antibiotics and that none are missed. Symptoms should begin to improve once the antibiotics start working but there are other medications that may also help to make your child more comfortable, such as over-the-counter pain relief. You should make sure that someone who is sick with Strep Throat drinks plenty of water to stay hydrated and there are lots of ways to ease the throat pain, including warm liquids and honey.
Complications to look out for
When Strep is left untreated it can cause serious problems so it’s vital to get help quickly. Some of those complications include the infection spreading to the middle ear, sinuses, skin or blood, rheumatic fever (which can damage the heart and joints), scarlet fever (a rash of tiny pin pricks or intense redness), kidney disease or reactive arthritis. All of these are an inflammatory response in a different part of the body that has been triggered by Strep - you can prevent this from happening by getting antibiotics quickly.
Strep Throat is a bacteria that can be easily treated with antibiotics - and should be managed quickly to avoid complications
Harley Street is the UK's foremost private medical centre which is dedicated to providing high-quality care for your ear, nose, throat, head & neck, and balance-related disorders. Find out more information on how Harley Street ENT can help you here.