Streptococcal pharyngitis is an infection caused by bacteria called Streptococcus group A and is very common among children and adolescents. The symptoms of streptococcal pharyngitis include fever, abdominal pain, and redness and swelling of the tonsils.
Strep throat or Streptococcal pharyngitis usually requires antibiotic treatment. With the proper pharmacological treatment, along with plenty of rest and abundant fluids, your child should return to normal, rejoining the classes and recovering the desire to play in a few days.
Anyone can get streptococcal pharyngitis, but it is more common in school-age children and adolescents. It occurs more often during the school year when large groups of children and adolescents share small spaces.
The bacteria that cause streptococcal pharyngitis are found in the nasal and pharyngeal secretions of infected people, so normal activities such as sneezing, coughing or shaking the hand of an infected person may be possible routes of infection. That is why it is essential that you teach your child the importance of washing their hands – good hygiene habits can greatly reduce the chances of your child contracting infectious diseases such as strep throat.
Not all sore throats can be diagnosed as streptococcal pharyngitis. Most episodes of a sore throat, which can be accompanied by a runny nose, cough, hoarseness and eye redness, are caused by viruses. A sore throat usually remits spontaneously without the need for pharmacological treatment.
If your child has strep throat, he will begin to develop other symptoms, apart from a sore throat, for about 3 days. These symptoms may include:
If your child, other than having a sore throat, has more symptoms of strep throat, it would be wise to call the pediatrician. He will probably perform a rapid test to detect streptococci in the same consultation, using a cotton swab to extract a sample of secretions from the back of the throat. This test offers results in just five minutes. If the outcome is positive, it means that your child has strep throat. If it is negative, the pediatrician will send the sample of pharyngeal secretions to a laboratory to make culture, the results of which will be obtained after a few days.
In most cases, doctors prescribe antibiotics for 10 days to treat strep throat. Approximately during the first 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, your child will lower the fever, and will no longer be contagious. Between the second and the third day of treatment, the other symptoms should also begin to subside.
Although it is possible that at that point your child stops being sick, it is very important to complete the cycle of antibiotic treatment. If medicate stop too soon, the bacteria may remain in his throat, returning to the symptoms appear.
If your child does not get treatment for strep throat, it will be more contagious when you have more severe symptoms, but may continue to be so for up to 21 days. The lack of treatment – or the failure to complete the cycle of antibiotic treatment prescribed by the pediatrician – could also expose your child to the risk of other health issues, such as rheumatic fever (which can effect permanent cardiac damage), scarlet fever, blood infections or kidney disease.
To prevent your child from spreading strep throat to other family members, keep your cutlery, plates, and glasses separate from the rest of the family and wash them with hot soapy water after each use. Similarly, make sure your child does not share food, drinks, handkerchiefs or towels with other people. Make sure your child covers her mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to avoid dropping droplets of infectious secretions.
You can do several things to boost your child to find better. To prevent dehydration, make sure you drink plenty of fresh fluids, such as water or moisturizing serums, especially when you have a fever. Avoid giving them orange or grapefruit juice, lemonade and other citrus drinks, which could irritate your throat. Hot liquids such as soups, tea with honey or hot chocolate can relieve a sore throat.
When your child starts to feel better, talk with the pediatrician about the best time to go back to school and resume your normal life.