As the winter season sets in for Baytown, Texas, so does the increased likelihood of encountering one of the most common bacterial infections among children: strep throat. This contagious infection tends to make its rounds during the colder months and early spring, causing discomfort and concern for both children and parents. Understanding the symptoms, treatment options, and preventive measures for strep throat is crucial for safeguarding your child’s health.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Strep Throat
Strep throat manifests differently in children than it does in adults, making it imperative for parents to stay aware of potential warning signs. In kids and toddlers, symptoms of strep throat may include the following.
Sudden Onset of Severe Throat Pain
If your child has strep throat, they might complain of severe pain in their throat or that it is difficult for them to swallow. For toddlers, you may notice that they have more difficulty swallowing food, and they may even become upset during feeding time because their throat hurts.
If you suspect that your child has strep throat, check for swollen, tender lymph nodes in their neck. You can check for swollen lymph nodes by gently pressing the area around the side of your child’s neck. If you feel soft, round bumps (between the size of a pea and a grape) that means that your child’s lymph nodes are swollen and that they may have strep throat.
Redness and White Patches
A common sign of strep throat are red and white patches or streaks of pus on the tonsils. You can ask your child to say “Ahhhh” and look down their throat with a flashlight to check for these patches. If you decide to look inside your child’s mouth, we highly recommend that you wear a face mask since strep throat is contagious and spread by saliva particles.
Most of the time, strep throat is accompanied by a high fever, typically above 101°F. You can check your child’s temperature by using a digital thermometer under their tongue. Again, we advise that you wear a face covering if you plan to use a thermometer inside of your child’s mouth to prevent yourself from potentially catching strep throat.
Headache and Stomachache
Children with strep throat may experience headaches, abdominal pain, or even vomiting. These symptoms are common with many illnesses, so you may want to look for accompanying symptoms such as a sore throat while determining whether or not your child may have strep throat.
What to Do if Your Child Has Strep Throat
If you suspect your child has strep throat, consult a healthcare professional as soon as possible. A throat culture or rapid strep test conducted by a doctor can confirm the diagnosis of strep throat. If strep throat is confirmed, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.
While your child is recovering from strep throat, ensure that they are getting plenty of rest and are staying hydrated. Encourage them to drink soothing liquids such as warm broth or tea with honey to ease any throat discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help alleviate pain and reduce fever. Always follow dosage instructions and consult a pediatrician before administering medication.
Treatments and Remedies for Strep Throat
Antibiotics prescribed by the doctor are essential to combat the bacterial infection causing strep throat. It’s crucial to complete the entire course of antibiotics, even if your child starts to feel better. Completing the antibiotic treatment helps prevent the bacteria from developing resistance to the medication.
Aside from antibiotics, the following remedies can provide relief for strep throat.
- Gargling warm salt water can soothe the throat and reduce discomfort.
- Using humidifiers can keep the air moist and ease throat irritation.
- Cold treats such as crushed ice, frozen fruit, and frozen yogurt can numb the throat and provide relief. Avoid excessively sugary treats as they can cause inflammation in the throat and worsen the pain.
- Warm, soothing foods such as soup and mashed potatoes can also provide relief while being easier to swallow for children with strep throat.
How to Prevent the Spread of Strep Throat
Strep throat is highly contagious and spreads through respiratory droplets from coughs or sneezes of an infected person. To prevent the spread of strep throat, you and your child should practice the following habits, especially during the winter season.
- Encourage frequent handwashing, especially before meals and after coughing or sneezing.
- Teach your child to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Advise your child to refrain from sharing utensils, cups, or food with others.
- Regularly clean surfaces and toys that may harbor bacteria.
- Consider wearing a face mask, especially if you or someone in your household is showing symptoms of strep throat or other respiratory infections.
If your child has strep throat, keep them home from school or daycare until they’ve been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours and are fever-free.
Being aware of the symptoms, seeking timely medical attention, following prescribed treatments, and adopting preventive measures are key to managing strep throat in children. With proactive care and hygiene practices, you can help your child navigate strep throat season while being able to enjoy the winter holidays.
Remember, if you suspect your child has strep throat, seek medical advice. Together, we can combat the challenges posed by strep throat during these colder months.
Patients ER is located at 10133 Interstate 10 East, Baytown, TX 77521. You can give us a call at 281-576-0555 if you have any questions regarding our services.