Strep Throat: See the little red dots on the roof of the mouth? That's a classic sign of it!
Mom, my throat hurts…heard this one recently?
It's that time again for my “Bug O’ the Week” blog. My "busy season" in the office is October to April. So, I'll be giving you the periodic run-down of the infections I’m seeing in my office over the next several months. Although there is some variability across the country as to when these usual suspects arrive, I guarantee that they will hit your town at some point this winter.
This week’s bug/bugs: Sore throat infections
There are several viruses that cause a sore throat. Right now, there are two different viruses that my patients are coming down with.
Bug #1: The common cold (Rhinovirus) This is one we are all familiar with. Here are the typical symptoms: runny nose, cough, and sometimes a sore throat. A child might run a fever at the beginning of the illness for a few days, but not always. Symptoms can last for 10-14 days. Good times. You do not need to be worried if your child still has a runny nose or a cough that lingers for a while. No antibiotics are necessary to treat this illness.
Bug #2: Adenovirus Never heard of this one? Well, it’s actually a very common viral illness. Adenovirus causes a sore throat, sometimes associated with pink eye (the whites of the eyes will look red). Kids often run a fever with it. In little ones who are too young to say that their throat hurts, fever and a lack of interest in eating may be the only obvious symptoms. But, if you take a look at your child’s throat (if he lets you), you will see that the tonsils are red and swollen. No antibiotics are needed because this is a viral infection, not a bacterial one.
Bug #3: Strep Throat. To make things even more confusing, Strep Throat is also going around. That is a bacterial infection that DOES need to be treated with antibiotics. It’s more common in kids over two years of age who are old enough to tell you their throat hurts. If your child has a sore throat without a cough, runny nose, or pink eye, he should see his medical provider. (Take a look at the picture in this blog for a nice, but gross, example of what Strep looks like. If your child's throat looks like this, book an appointment!)
So what’s a parent to do for a child who is miserable with a sore throat?
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for kids over six months of age (Be sure your baby sees his doctor to confirm the diagnosis if he is under six months of age to use acetaminophen).
Push the fluids. Don’t worry about eating solid food right now.
Try popsicles, smoothies, or a milkshake if your child resists drinking.