Strep Throat In Children

What is strep throat in children?

Strep throat is a throat infection caused by bacteria. It is easily spread from person to person.


What are the signs and symptoms of a strep throat in children?

Signs and symptoms usually appear 1 to 5 days after your child has been exposed to the strep bacteria. Your child may have any of the following:

  • Sore, red, and swollen throat

  • Fever and headache

  • Upset stomach, abdominal pain, or vomiting

  • White or yellow patches or blisters in the back of his throat

  • Throat pain when he swallows

  • Tender, swollen lumps on the sides of his neck or jaw

How is a strep throat in children diagnosed?

Your child's caregiver will swab the back of your child's throat to test for strep bacteria. You may get the results in minutes or days.


How is strep throat in children treated?

Your child will need antibiotic medicine to treat his strep throat. He should feel better within 2 to 3 days after he starts antibiotics. Give your child his antibiotics until they are gone, even if he feels better. Do this unless your caregiver says it is okay for your child to stop taking antibiotics. Your child may return to school 24 hours after he starts antibiotic medicine.

How can I manage my child's symptoms?

  • Give your child crushed ice, hard candy, cough drops, or throat lozenges to suck on if he is 3 years old or older.

  • Give your child juice, milk shakes, or soup if his throat is too sore to eat solid food.

  • Give your child a small amount of salt water to gargle. Mix ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 cup of warm water to make salt water.

How can strep throat in children be prevented?

  • Do not let your child share food or drinks.

  • Wash your child's hands often.

  • Replace your child's toothbrush after he has taken antibiotics for 24 hours.

  • Keep your child away from people who are sick.

What are the risks of strep throat?

Without treatment, the bacteria can spread. Your child can develop a high fever with a rash, throat swelling, and inflammation in his joints. Throat swelling can lead to trouble swallowing or breathing. He can also develop problems with his heart or inflammation of his kidneys. He may develop an ear infection or swelling in his nose, jaw, or throat.

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

Contact your child's caregiver if:

  • Your child has a fever.

  • Your child's signs and symptoms get worse or do not get better, even after medicine.

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

When should I seek immediate help?

Seek help immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your child's signs and symptoms continue for more than 5 to 7 days.

  • Your child has a new skin rash that is itchy or swollen.

  • Your child is tugging at his ears or has ear pain.

  • Your child is drooling because he cannot swallow his spit.

  • Your child has trouble breathing or swallowing.

  • Your child has blue lips or fingernails.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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