When strep throat strikes, rely on DispatchHealth
Your child’s tonsils are growing redder by the hour, their neck glands are swelling, and they’re complaining constantly about the pain. Those two little words are in the back of your mind, despite your strong wishes that they’re not accurate: strep throat. You hope against hope you’re wrong, but something tells you it’s time to seek medical attention. It’s a good move, because strep throat often requires antibiotics that only qualified medical professionals, like ours at DispatchHealth, can provide. We’ll come to your home to diagnose and treat your child’s strep throat so you can avoid the cramped waiting rooms and long wait times inevitable at the emergency room or an urgent care center for non-life-threatening conditions.
If this is an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department.
Strep throat symptoms & when to seek treatment
Strep throat is an infection usually caused by a virus or bacteria. Strep is marked by inflammation in the back of the mouth and throat, leading to red and white patches that are super painful and make it difficult to swallow. Fortunately, strep throat can be treated easily with antibiotics.
Strep throat is common in children and teens—in infants younger than three years, exposure to the streptococcus bacteria often results in an ear infection rather than a sore throat, so keep that in mind when considering strep throat symptoms. Your child may have strep throat if they experience any of the following:
- A sore throat
- A fever
- Little, red spots on the roof of the mouth
- White patches in the throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Red, swollen tonsils
- A headache
- Swollen lymph nodes
Not all sore throats are due to strep, but without a diagnosis by a qualified medical professional, it can be tough to tell. Keep in mind that strep is more common in the winter, when kids spend more time indoors. It’s very contagious; your child can catch strep throat by shaking hands with somebody who has strep, playing with a shared toy, or standing too close when somebody with strep throat sneezes or coughs.
To diagnose strep throat, a medical professional will typically perform a rapid strep test, sampling fluids at the back of your child’s throat with a cotton swab. It doesn’t take long, and our medical professionals at DispatchHealth can perform a rapid strep test within the comfort of your own home. From there, your child may be prescribed antibiotics to fight the strep infection. Your child should start to feel better within a few days, but make sure they finish all the antibiotics; it’s the only way to kill the bacteria in its entirety!
What causes strep throat in children?
Strep throat is most commonly caused by a virus, but can also be caused by bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes. There are two types of this bacteria: group A and group B. Group A, also referred to as group A streptococcus, is most prevalent, causing strep throat along with other health issues like skin infections, toxic shock syndrome, and scarlet fever.
Strep is incredibly common among children, especially considering how contagious it is. According to the CDC, strep is most commonly caught by kids between the ages of five and 15. This is mostly due to increased exposure to strep by interacting with kids and infected surfaces at school.
Strep is also more common in the winter and early spring, when children spend most of their time indoors and in close proximity with other children. This is because group A streptococcus flourishes where people are in close contact, according to the Mayo Clinic.
How to prevent strep throat in children
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help prevent your child from contracting strep throat:
- Teach your child good hygiene. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to drive home the specifics of good hygiene practices for strep throat prevention. Teach your child to wash their hands before and after meals, after using the restroom, and after playing with shared toys or other children. Show your child how to wash his or her hands properly to maximize the benefits of this prevention method. Encourage your child to use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if there’s no handwashing sink available, and to steer clear of kids at school who seem to be under the weather.
- Teach your child not to share food or personal items. Sharing is an essential lesson to learn as a kid, but it shouldn’t come with a health risk. Teach your child to keep lunches and personal effects to themselves. Shared toys and playdates are inevitable, so to minimize risk, make sure your child practices good hygiene to avoid catching any virus or bacteria that a buddy or shared toy may carry.
- If your child does catch strep, follow through. It’s essential that your child take all the medicine your doctor prescribes, even if they start to feel better after a few days. Some bacteria can live and make a comeback, reinfecting your child just when you thought you were in the clear. It’s also a good idea to get a new toothbrush for your child after they’ve recovered from strep, and keep them home from school until the contagious period has passed.
If left untreated
When treated by a qualified medical professional, strep throat symptoms should clear up in about a week. Left untreated, however, strep can lead a whole host of complications, including:
- Ear infection (especially in infants)
- Kidney inflammation
- Rheumatic fever
- Guttate psoriasis
- Tonsil infection
- Scarlet fever
Keep your child’s strep throat from worsening by seeking prompt medical care as soon as you see symptoms of strep. Don’t want to saddle up your little one to take them to the ER or urgent care center? Don’t worry; we can help. At DispatchHealth, we provide in-home treatment for strep throat. Skip the germ-ridden waiting room and stay home while we diagnose and treat your child’s strep throat from the comfort of your own home. We accept most major insurance providers, including Medicare and Medicaid, and offer an affordable flat rate for uninsured patients. Our services cost a fraction of what a visit to the ER would, making DispatchHealth a great choice for a budget-conscious parent who wants to see their child’s health improve quickly without having to drag them to the ER. Request care via phone, our app, or online today to have a qualified medical professional at your front door within a couple of hours.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Phil Mitchell MD, MS on October 3rd, 2019