“Mom, my throat hurts.”

What can we do about Strep?

It’s a common complaint, “Mom, my throat hurts.”

But how do parents know if it’s simply a virus or something more, like strep throat?

“Group A streptococcus, or strep throat, is the cause of a sore throat in about three out of every 10 children,” says Josephine Dlugopolski-Gach, pediatrician at Loyola University Health System. “The difficult part is that strep doesn’t always present in the same way and some strep carriers are asymptomatic.”

Many schools are seeing outbreaks of strep throat. Some students are even being infected multiple times because “you don’t become immune to this infection so you can get it over and over again,” Dlugopolski-Gach says.

If your child is sick, it is important to keep them at home.

“If they are diagnosed with strep a child needs to be on an antibiotic and without a fever for 24 hours before going back to school,” Dlugopolski-Gach says.

Some common symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Fever over 101ยบ F
  • Severe sore throat
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes
  • White or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat

Other possible symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Belly pain
  • Vomiting
  • Not feeling hungry
  • Body aches
  • Red skin rash

It’s unlikely that your child will get all of these symptoms. Dluglopolski-Gach says one good indicator that they may have strep is if they have recently come into contact with someone with strep, but the only way to know for sure is to visit your doctor.

“A simple test in the office is all that is needed to determine if the infection is viral or strep throat,” says Dluglopolski-Gach.

Jackie is the digital content manager at Chicago Parent. She lives in Chicago with her daughter and husband.

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