Strep Throat in Toddlers

Strep throat in toddlers can present as sore throat, fever and headache. Finding a correct treatment could be difficult when the child is unwell. The disease is fairly common in school, so parents are generally concerned about their kids for catching this infection. Most school aged kids are susceptible of developing strep infection from someone at some time in their lives. With adequate treatment and prompt action, infection with strep throat can be very well kept under control.

What Are the Symptoms of Strep Throat in Toddlers?

Though suspected strep throat in toddlers needs to be confirmed by a doctor, there are few signs that can help parents recognize its presence, which vary from simple sore throat to severe tenderness and swelling of tonsils. Here are more about it:

  • Most characteristic sign of group A Streptococcus bacteria or GABS is bright red and swollen tonsils along with whitish flakes.
  • Noticeable swelling with tenderness of the gland, a fever above 101°F and chills are among the few the alarming signs.
  • A child may complain of sore throat, headache and difficulty of swallowing, stomachache or vomiting.
  • Sometimes, red sandpaper like rash may develop all over the body. This is called as Scarlet fever which can be treated by antibiotics. .

What Causes Strep Throat in Toddler?

Streptococcal bacteria are to be blame for strep throat. Group A beta hemolytic streptococcus is the most common cause. Besides, bacteria belonging to group C and G can also infect the throat.

Infection can spread when an infected person sneezes, cough or breathe, releasing tiny droplets into the air which are then inhaled by others. Most commonly, sore throat is caused by viral infection and other irritants like dry air, allergies, throat injury or smoke and not the strep infection.

Sometimes it may be hard to determine whether your condition is just a sore throat or a strep throat. Watch the video below to know their differences and treatments: 

How to Diagnose Strep Throat

Strep throat is diagnosed by throat swab that involves wiping off the throat with a thin cotton bud, which is then sent for GABS bacteria testing. The result usually comes in a day or two.

Few clinics also use rapid test to detect strep infection. Though a positive test result means you have a strep bacterial infection, a negative test doesn't rule out its presence. Hence this test should always be followed by a throat swab. Strep throat resembles a lot with viral pharyngitis which cannot be treated with antibiotics; hence throat swab is very important in its diagnoses.

Medications for Strep Throat in Toddlers

Since you have known that your kids get strep throat, you should take measure to treat it to prevent its deterioration. Antibiotics and other OTC medications are the best for managing strep infection.

1. Antibiotics

A strep infection usually needs an oral antibiotic. Penicillin and amoxicillin are two main drugs used for this infection.

  • Penicillin is given as intravenous injection and is suitable for children with vomiting or swallowing difficulty. Though, amoxicillin, belong to penicillin family, is preferred because of its better taste and availability in chewable tablets form.
  • If a child is allergic to penicillin then drugs like clarithromycin, clindamycin, azithromycin and cephalosporin should be used.

These antibiotics help in reducing the severity and duration of symptoms and also cut down the further complication and spread of this infection. A child starts feeling better in a day or two of antibiotics. Further consultation is required if no improvement is seen after 48 hours of treatment. A full course of antibiotic should be completed as leaving it in between can lead to further recurrence and can cause serious complications such as kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.

2. Other Medications

Few over the counter medications are also help in reducing the throat pain and fever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Aspirin should be avoided in children to prevent the development of Reye's syndrome. Label instructions should be carefully read and followed and a doctor or pharmacist should be consulted in case of any queries.

Home Remedies for Strep Throat

Though antibiotics are very effective in clearing strep throat infection, there are few home remedies that equally helpful.

1. Good Rest

A child tested positive for strep throat should be given bed rest till he or she feels better and signs of fever subside. Also he or she should be kept away from school or child care for at least 24 hours of starting antibiotics.

2. Hydration

Water helps to maintain hydration; hence drinking plenty of water is always a good idea. It soothes and lubricates the throat, thereby helping in swallowing.

3. Soothing Food

Food as puree, soft-cooked eggs, broths, soups, cooked cereal, mashed potatoes, yogurt or soft fruits are helpful as they are easy to swallow. Frozen yogurt or fruits pops, sherbet are also soothing for the throat. Spicy and acidic food should always be avoided such as orange juice.

4. Humidifiers

As moisture prevents the throat mucous membrane from drying up, keeping the air moist with a humidifier can help relieve the discomfort. It should be cleaned daily to avoid any growth of bacteria or molds. Saline nasal sprays may also help.

How to Prevent Strep Throat in Toddlers

Though currently no vaccine is available for preventing strep throat in toddlers, there are various behavior changes that can reduce the likelihood of development of this infection.

  • Contact with children having sore and undocumented strep throat should be avoided till they are finished with minimum 48 hours of antibiotics.
  • Hands should be washed every time a child comes in contact with items that may harbor the GBAS bacteria such as dishes or utensils.
  • Avoid sharing food and drinks with sick kid.
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