Is Strep Throat Serious?

Is Strep Throat Serious?

Your child complains of throat pain, has a fever, and generally feels unwell. A throat culture confirms it: strep throat.

After your child gets a diagnosis of strep throat, our pediatric care specialists Rainilda Valencia, MD, Micaela Marin-Tucker, PA-C, and Megan Reynolds, C-PNP, at Valencia Pediatrics in Victorville, California, are here to guide you and your child through strep throat care. 

Read on to discover if strep throat is a serious condition and how to treat it.

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is an illness caused by A Streptococcus bacteria. It’s a relatively common, contagious infection that’s especially prevalent in children.

The most common symptom of strep throat is a persistent sore throat that doesn’t go away on its own. Your child might also have swollen lymph nodes, trouble swallowing, and a fever.

Diagnosing strep throat

The symptoms of strep throat are very similar to many other illnesses, including the common cold. The only definitive way to know if your child has strep throat is with a simple test performed by our team at Valencia Pediatrics.

During a rapid strep throat test, we take a swab of your child’s throat and analyze it to see if it contains strep throat bacteria. Another test we might perform on your child is a throat culture, where we see if strep throat grows on the swab.

A rapid test gives immediate results but is slightly less accurate than a strep throat culture. Our team might also perform a throat culture if we believe your child might have strep throat even though the rapid test is negative.

Is strep throat dangerous?

When strep throat is promptly and correctly treated, it isn’t usually dangerous and resolves when your child finishes a course of antibiotics. Without treatment, though, strep throat can cause dangerous complications, including rheumatic fever and kidney inflammation. 

Occasionally, the bacterial infection in strep throat can spread to other parts of your child’s body, causing a more dangerous systemic infection. The best way to avoid these potential complications of strep throat is to get prompt testing and treatment.

Treating strep throat

Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, a course of antibiotics is the primary treatment. Your child should start to feel better within 1-2 days of taking antibiotics and can usually return to school at this time.

Make sure your child finishes the entire course of antibiotics, even if they’re feeling better after a couple of days. Our team can also recommend medicines that help relieve the symptoms of strep throat, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help with throat pain.

Contact our team if your child’s symptoms haven’t improved within two days of starting antibiotics.

Because untreated strep throat can be dangerous, it’s important to have your child tested any time they display symptoms of strep throat. If your child doesn’t have strep throat, we offer treatment suggestions to help relieve the pain of their cold or treatment for any other illness we diagnose them with.

Call our office today to schedule an office visit for your child.

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