By Dr Jesal Sheth, Senior Paediatricians, Fortis Hospital, Mulund
Sore throats are incredibly common, particularly in small children. Most of the time they are caused by exposure to cold, chemicals or viruses. They do get better with some symptom relief medications. However, about 20% of children, especially those who seem sicker, dull, lethargic, not engaging in play, have episodes of fever, Paediatricians should suspect it to be ‘Strep Throat’.
Strep Throat is an infection caused by Streptococcus (or Group AStrep) bacteria. This condition is unusual amongst big children, but it is a contagious even before they feel or seem visibly ill. Children get the infection by direct contact. Like when they come in contact with an infected person’s saliva, nose, sore on the skin. Or by indirect contact – when germs in the nose and throat of an infected person spread through the air from a cough or sneeze.
If your child’s sore throat highlights any of these symptoms, you’ll want to see the doctor, because he or she may indeed have Strep Throat:
- In infants and toddlers, low fever and thick and/or bloody nasal discharge or gurgling sounds are common
- Sometimes, young children have post nasal drips, may swallow it and either vomit mucus or passes sticky stools as they can’t spit
- Young children may look cranky due to malaise and may not be interested in eating and drinking
- Children with sore throat normally tend to be dehydrated.
- In children over 3yrs of age, symptoms like hard to swallow, fever of 102 or higher, swollen glands in neck. Also, inflammation or pus on the tonsils and surrounding area, should be watched out for
- Less common symptoms may include a rash or tiny red spots (called Petechiae) . It may occur near the back of the roof of the mouth, body aches, headache, nausea, and vomiting.
When to see a doctor?
One should see a doctor within few days or so if you think your child may have it although Strep Throat is not an emergency condition. Usually, Strep Throat can be diagnosed within a few minutes by a simple test called a Rapid Strep Test. But if the test comes negative, then the Paediatrician may advice you to do more accurate tests such as throat culture. Strep Throat is always treated with antibiotics, either given orally (in liquid or pill form) or via injection; medicines works quickly.
Strep Throat could cause serious complications, such as Kidney inflammation or Rheumatic Fever, if not treated on time. Eventually, Rheumatic Fever could lead to aching and swollen joints, a specific type of rash, or damage your Heart valve. That’s why it is essential to diagnose and treat this condition on time. Even if the child stops showing symptoms within 1-2 days of treatment, Paediatricians usually advice to give full course of antibiotics.