Strep Throat

A doctor checking a girl for strep throat.

Strep throat is a common bacterial infection that causes a sore throat in both adults and children. Read on to learn more about this condition, including the symptoms to look out for, the transmission risks, and the importance of treatment.

Feel free to contact the Pediatric Associates of Austin for all your child’s health concerns. Our experienced team of doctors in Austin, Texas is ready to address any concerns and provide the best care for your little ones. Schedule a consultation today for expert guidance on managing childhood illnesses like strep throat.

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the group A strep (GAS) bacteria. Strep bacteria are the most common bacterial infection that causes sore throat in children and teens.

Effective treatment typically involves antibiotics, along with adequate rest and hydration, allowing most children to resume normal activities within a few days.

Symptoms of Strep Throat

If your child has any of the following symptoms, they could have strep throat:

  • Throat pain that comes on quickly and is more painful when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Painful or swollen neck glands (lymph nodes)
  • Red and swollen tonsils with white patches or streaks on them
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rash (a red rash together with strep throat is called scarlet fever)

A sore throat may not necessarily indicate strep throat. Viral infections cause most sore throats. If your child has cold symptoms, such as a runny nose, a cough, or
pink eye, then it’s more likely to be caused by a viral infection. Your child will usually get over a viral infection without treatment.

Children younger than 3 years old do not usually get strep throat. GAS bacteria usually causes a fever with fussiness, poor appetite, and a runny nose without a sore throat.

Causes of Strep Throat

Strep bacteria accumulate in the nose and throat. Thus the bacteria spreads easily through everyday activities like talking, sneezing, or handshakes. You could also get it by touching contaminated surfaces and then by touching your nose or mouth.

Children can spread the infection even before they have symptoms and can be contagious for up to 3 weeks. Those who are not being treated for the strep infection will be most contagious when their symptoms are most severe.

To lower your child’s risk of catching strep throat, they should wash their hands thoroughly and regularly.

Is Strep Throat Contagious?

Yes, strep throat can spread very quickly and easily when kids and teens are in close contact. Kids and teens ages 5 to 15 are most likely to get the disease. School term time is when infections are most likely to occur. Your child is most likely to catch the infection in winter or early spring.

How is Strep Throat Diagnosed?

Your doctor can diagnose strep throat. You should make an appointment if your child has a sore throat and other strep throat symptoms. Strep throat diagnosis is usually done with a rapid strep test. Your doctor takes a sample of the fluids at the back of the throat using a cotton swab. It will only take about 5 minutes to do.

A positive test means your child has strep throat. If the test is negative and your doctor suspects your child has strep throat, they may send a sample to a lab for a throat culture.

How to Treat Strep Throat

Strep throat is usually treated with a course of antibiotic medicine for 10 days. Antibiotic treatment is recommended to help treat the infection faster and stop the infection from spreading.

Your child’s fever should stop within 12 hours of starting the antibiotics. Other symptoms should start to clear up after 2 or 3 days.

Your child must continue the course of antibiotics until the end, even if the symptoms disappear. If they don’t finish the antibiotic medicine, the bacteria can come back. GAS bacteria can cause further health problems, such as rheumatic fever, kidney disease, and other infections within the body.

Complications of Strep Throat

Serious complications are not common but can occur with untreated strep throat or if the bacteria spreads to other parts of the body.

Complications from strep throat can include:

  • Abscesses (pockets of pus) around the tonsils or in the neck
  • Ear infections
  • Sinus infections
  • Rheumatic fever (a disease that can affect the heart, joints, brain, and skin)
  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a kidney disease)

Schedule Your Child’s Appointment Today

If you suspect your child may have strep throat or require professional advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to Pediatric Associates of Austin. Schedule an appointment now to ensure your child receives the highest quality care from our dedicated team of pediatric experts in Austin, TX. Your child’s well-being is our priority!


PAA Advance Practice Providers

Our PAA APP’s include: Amber Mercer, Annie Croft, Bridget Shen, Brooke Gonzalez, Caitlin Whiteman, Courtney Dudley, Emily Woodard, Emma McCarty, Erin Moore, Keena Chung, Lauren Karnesky, and Pam Dietrich