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How to Tell If It’s Strep Throat

sore As you plan group activities with family and friends during the winter months, remember that there is always a chance that you will share more than good memories – you may be sharing germs, too. In fact, winter is the time of year when a sore throat could be more than just the result of having a cold, it could be a sign of a strep throat infection. The risk for strep throat is higher for children between the ages of five and 15 years old. Parents of school-age children and adults who interact with children in this age range also have a higher risk of becoming infected.

How it spreads

Strep throat is caused by bacteria that is released as airborne droplets. Since it is highly contagious, everyday activities can cause the infection to easily spread, especially among people in close contact with each other.

  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Surface contact, such as a door handle
  • Sharing food or drink
  • Shaking hands

The bacteria can quickly transfer from one person to another. You can pick it up if you touch something that may be infected and then touch your face, nose or mouth. Thorough hand washing is a good way to help prevent spreading the infection.

Look for symptoms

A sore throat could be a sign of strep or it may be a virus. If your child has a sore throat with a runny nose, a cough and a hoarse voice, the illness is more likely to be a virus. Symptoms of strep throat are more noticeable and are usually without a runny nose or a cough.

  • Severe sore throat. The pain comes on quickly and it may hurt to swallow.
  • Swollen tonsils. Tonsils will be red. There may also be white or yellow spots on the throat.
  • Painful lymph nodes. Swollen glands in the front of the neck that feel tender and hurt when touched.
  • Having a fever of 101 degrees or higher.

Additional symptoms may include tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth, a loss of appetite, headache, nausea or a rash.

Diagnosis and treatment

If you or your child has these symptoms 48 hours or longer, it is time to see a doctor. A rapid strep test can provide a diagnosis in a very short amount of time. Using a cotton swab, your doctor gently takes a sample from the back of the throat to test it for the bacteria. Antibiotics will be prescribed and need to be taken until they are completely finished in order to prevent any recurrence of symptoms or other complications.

Midwest Express Clinic can provide a thorough examination and on-site lab services for strep throat. Our team of medical professionals offer diagnosis and treatment for immediate and convenient care. We are available for walk-in visits or schedule an appointment at a location near you.