The Scoop on Strep Throat

The Scoop on Strep Throat

Lee este articulo

"It could be strep throat."

Have you ever heard a doctor or your mom say that when you're sick and have a sore throat? Strep throat is a disease caused by tiny ball-shaped bacteria (say: bak-teer-ee-uh) called group A streptococci (say: strep-toe-kok-sigh). These bacteria cause up to 30% of all sore throats and are found in your throat and on your skin.

If a kid has strep throat, the doctor will give him or her medicine called an antibiotic, which will kill the strep bacteria. That's good news because sometimes strep throat can get worse and cause problems with other parts of a kid's body. For example, untreated strep can cause arthritis (say: ar-thry-tis) or heart problems from a disease called rheumatic (say: roo-mat-ick) fever.

Most of the time kids get the medicine they need and recover from strep throat very quickly. After taking the medicine for 24 hours, you will feel a lot better and will no longer be contagious. It is really important to take all 10 days of the medicine to make sure you have treated the infection.

strep throat illustration

How Do I Get It?

If someone in your family or at school has strep throat, there is a chance you might get it. Strep throat is spread when healthy people come into contact with someone who has it. The bacteria can spread to you when a person with strep throat sneezes or blows his or her nose and you are nearby, or if you share the same forks, spoons, or straws.

If you get strep throat, you'll start to feel sick within 5 days after you were around the person who gave it to you.

What Will the Doctor Do?

Your doctor will look into your mouth. What is he or she looking for?

Most of the time, strep will give you a sore throat, headache, stomachache, and fever. Typically strep will not give you a runny nose or cough, and occasionally it won't give you any specific symptoms.
To be sure you have strep throat, your doctor may do one or two tests.

First, he or she can do a rapid strep test to check for strep bacteria. The doctor takes a sample by rubbing a cotton swab over the back of your throat. With this test, the doctor may be able to find out in a few minutes if you have strep throat.

If the first test doesn't prove anything, your doctor might do a longer test called a throat culture. Again, the doctor will take a sample using a cotton swab. This time, the sample will go on a special dish and left to sit for 2 nights. If you have strep throat, streptococci bacteria will usually grow in the dish within 1-2 days.

How Can I Get Better?

If you have strep throat, your doctor will give you an antibiotic (say: an-tye-bye-ah-tik), a medicine that kills bacteria. Usually the antibiotic used for strep throat is a form of penicillin (say: pen-ih-sil-in). To make sure the bacteria go away completely and don't spread to other parts of your body, you must finish all of the medicine. Your doctor will have you take the pills or liquid for 10 days.

Your mom or dad may give you acetaminophen (say: uh-see-tuh-min-uh-fin) to get rid of aches, pains, and fever. You'll want to have soothing drinks, like tea and warm chicken soup. Frozen foods such as ice cream or popsicles can also help to ease the throat pain It's best to avoid spicy and acidic foods, such as orange juice, because they could hurt your tender throat.

Your doctor will tell you to stay home from school until you have been taking the antibiotic for at least 24 hours. This way, you won't spread the bacteria to others.

How Can I Prevent Strep Throat?

If someone in your house has strep throat, you might get it. But you can take these steps to prevent it:

Strep throat is no fun, but after feeling sick for 2 or 3 days, most kids start getting back to normal. In other words, they feel less streppy and more peppy!

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: October 2011





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
Web SiteBrainPop This is a great site for kids with informational movies about science, anatomy, weather, and more.
OrganizationCenters for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The mission of the CDC is to promote health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability. Call: (800) CDC-INFO
Related Articles
Having Your Tonsils Taken Out Sometimes tonsils need to be removed, but how is it done? Find out in this article for kids.
Tonsillitis If your tonsils get infected, it can make your throat feel very sore. Find out more in this article for kids.
Why Do I Need to Wash My Hands? Washing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Learn all about the best way to wash your hands in this article for kids.
Chilling Out With Colds Cough, sneeze, snort. Those are the sounds of a cold. Find out more about colds in this article for kids.
Flu The flu is a virus that can make you sick for a week or longer. Find out more in this article for kids.
What Are Germs? You know they can hurt you, but what are these invisible creatures? Find out in this article for kids.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter