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Child getting a strep test

Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat

By Dr. Nwakaego Inyamah, Newport News Pediatrics

Viruses, bacteria, dry air, allergens or even drainage from a runny nose can cause a little one’s throat to be sore. If it’s accompanied by a fever, headache and chills, it could be strep throat.

Strep throat is a contagious infection caused by bacteria. Symptoms can appear suddenly, without a cough or other cold symptoms. In fact, a cough and congested nose make it less likely that a person has strep throat.

If your child has signs of strep throat, see your pediatrician for diagnosis. If left untreated, strep can lead to rheumatic fever, an illness that can cause more serious complications.

Here’s how to tell if your child’s sore throat prompts a visit to the pediatrician’s office.

If it’s a sore throat caused by a cold virus, symptoms will include the following:

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Red, itchy or watery eyes.

Symptoms your child has strep throat include:

  • Sudden sore throat
  • White spots on the tonsils
  • Fever
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain

If your pediatrician suspects strep, a simple test can confirm the diagnosis. Strep throat is spread easily, so it’s important to keep your child home if he tests positive for strep. Your child’s pediatrician will likely prescribe antibiotics. After your child has taken the antibiotics for 24 hours, he will no longer be contagious and may return to school once his fever has subsided.

If your child has a sore throat – strep or no strep – avoid throat sprays and cough drops and make sure he’s getting plenty of fluids. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen may be used for fever and pain.

About CHKD Medical Group

About CHKD Medical  Group Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters has been the region’s most trusted name in pediatric care for more than 50 years. As members of CHKD Health System, our pediatricians work closely with CHKD’s full range of pediatric specialists and surgeons. They also share a commitment to quality, excellence and child-centered care. With 18 practices in 29 locations throughout the region, a CHKD pediatrician is never far.

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