Strep throat in children: symptoms and treatments

By: Osler Health International
Posted on: 18 Oct 2023

Strep throat in children | Osler Health

Is your child frequently voicing discomfort when swallowing or persistently experiencing a painful throat? While it can be easy to dismiss this as a common irritation, there’s a possibility that your child might be grappling with strep throat rather than the typical sore throat.

What is strep throat?

Strep throat originates from a bacterial infection primarily caused by the group A strep (GAS) bacteria. This particular bacterium is a prominent culprit behind bacterial sore throats in children and young adults. GAS tends to linger in children’s nasal and throat regions, and everyday actions, such as talking, sneezing, or a simple handshake, can propel its transmission. By touching their faces after coming in contact with a bacteria-laden surface, children can unknowingly pave the way for an infection.

Strep throat vs sore throat: which does my child have?

It can seem tricky to differentiate strep throat from sore throat. However, one of the main differences is that strep throat is an infection caused by the GAS bacteria, whereas viral infections cause most common sore throats. If a child showcases cold-like features, such as a runny nose or a cough, paired with a scratchy voice or symptoms of conjunctivitis (pink eye), it typically suggests a viral sore throat. While such sore throats generally resolve without medical intervention, strep throat demands antibiotic treatment.

This is because strep throat is typically accompanied by inflammation, which causes intense discomfort that can affect your child’s ability to swallow comfortably. In more severe instances, they may even develop a high fever (beyond 101 degrees Fahrenheit).

Signs and symptoms of strep throat

Besides these symptoms, a child with strep throat may also exhibit the following signs:

  • Enlarged, red tonsils with white patches or streaks
  • Bright red tongue 
  • Minuscule red dots adorning the roof of the mouth. 
  • Tender, swollen neck glands or lymph nodes
  • Recurring headaches
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

In some cases, they may also develop a gritty red rash known as scarlet fever.

Osler Health is here to help 

The symptoms of strep throat can take a toll on your child’s overall health and vitality. When left unattended, strep throat can even pose further complications. With an exaggerated immune response to the bacteria, children may experience an onset of rheumatic fever, which manifests through symptoms like inflamed and painful joints and even kidney impairment or cardiac complications.

Fortunately, prompt treatment, combined with sufficient rest and hydration can quickly provide relief. If you suspect your child may be experiencing more than just a common sore throat, please come and see our  dedicated team of children’s doctors at Osler Health. All our family doctors can assist, however you may wish to see Dr Nicole Plesko-Altermatt, who is a dedicated children’s doctor based in our Star Vista clinic. 

At Osler Health, our doctors will conduct a rapid strep test and provide treatment for your child.. Please note we have on-site medications. Book an appointment with our medical clinic in Singapore today, and let us help nurse your little one back to health quickly.

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