Strep throat could have more severe repercussions in children than when it affects adults. This article covers all that you need to know about this common bacterial infection of the throat.
In many instances, strep throat is erroneously interchanged for sore throat. But the fact remains that, the former is one of the many conditions that results in sore throat. Also, sore throat is usually a result of a viral infection, while strep throat refers to an infection of the throat and the tonsils, caused by the invasion of bacteria. Strep throat if left unattended or untreated, it may easily become the cause of kidney inflammation, and rheumatic fever.
Children between 5 – 15 years of age, happen to be the common victims of this infectious disease. As the causal agent is bacteria, the infection is treated with antibiotics, and a few self-care measures at home such as drinking plenty of fluids, and taking adequate rest. Within a few days of treatment, a child can get back to school and other normal activities, provided the course of the treatment is followed as it is recommended to.
Indicants of Strep Throat
Symptoms of the infection are easy to notice, and detect when it occurs in younger children. But to detect the same in small children, is for obvious reasons, a difficult task. Symptoms such as sore throat, throat pain, headache, stomachache, and fatigue may not be visible to parents, as the affected child would not be able to convey how he/she is feeling.
However, if parents notice that their child is crying more than usual, or has become crankier than other days, and is showing the following physical symptoms, then they should consider paying a visit to their child’s pediatrician.
- The neck seems swollen, and is tender to touch
- The soft or hard palate of the mouth has developed white or yellow spots
- A fever over 101 degree F
- Skin rash
- Swollen tonsils
As cited at the opening of the article, strep throat is the result of a bacterial infection, and the bacteria responsible for it is known as Streptococcus pyogenes. The bacteria usually stay at areas such as that of the nose and throat. So activities such as sneezing, coughing, kissing, sharing food utensils, or direct contact with the hands, can easily serve as a medium of spreading the infection to others.
Complications are the consequences, when a severe disease is left untreated. And in this case, an untreated strep throat can help the infection spread to the tonsils, sinus cavities, the middle ear (otitis media), the skin and even the blood. It may also trigger a pus-filled swelling of the throat. Now more severe than these complications could be the inflammatory reactions that may occur.
As already mentioned, rheumatic fever is a health concerning disorder that is known to inflict damage to the heart permanently. 5 – 15-year-old children are the most vulnerable, although, younger children and adults may also experience this complication. Sometimes, this infection could become so nasty that it may trigger kidney inflammation, and scarlet fever (characterized by a rash that engulfs the whole body).
Antibiotics are the first line of defense in getting rid of the pathogen that has caused the infection. Usually, the course of the treatment may continue for a period of 10 days. As observed in most cases, within 1 day after commencement of the treatment, the fever leaves the child, and his/her contagious period gets over. And by the next two days, even the symptoms would cease to appear. However, irrespective of the child feeling better or not, it is a must to complete the entire course of the treatment, as prescribed by the doctor.
In most cases wherein, parents fail to do this, the infection recurs and becomes more severe than before. So to avoid recurrence and further complications, complete the course of antibiotics. Penicillin and Amoxicillin are the common drugs that are prescribed, and for those who may be allergic to these, may be treated with other drugs. Parents must also be vigilant enough to see if their child is doing good. If there is no improvement in the condition even after 2 days, then revisiting the doctor would be necessary.
To conclude, besides helping your child taking adequate rest, and drinking plenty of water, giving her/him soothing foods to eat, avoiding exposure to irritants like smoke, and paint, etc., also do a great deal in relieving the symptoms. Gargling with warm salt water is also an effective method, but only for older children and adults. Using a humidifier in the house would help in increasing the moisture level in the air thus, reducing irritation in the sinuses and throat.