Do you find our website to be helpful?
Yes   No

How Do I Know if My Child Needs a Strep Test?

How Do I Know if My Child Needs a Strep Test?

When the fall and winter hit, the flu, colds, COVID-19, and strep throat circulate through daycare, playdates, and schools. All of these, and other random viruses, can cause a sore throat. Changes in temperature, home heating, allergies, and a really excited day yelling on the playground can also make your child wake up with a sore throat.

So, when should you be concerned? Our team at Penguin Pediatrics, consisting of Dr. Umesh Kodu and Dr. Andrea McKennon, have some suggestions as to when you should suspect your child’s sore throat might be strep. 

Here are some questions you can ask your child and symptoms to watch for to help you decide whether you should bring them into our office for a strep test. 

Questions to ask your child about their sore throat

If your child is old enough to communicate their symptoms, it’s a real asset in helping you decide whether to get a strep test. 

Ask them things like:

Strep throat usually makes your child’s throat seriously hurt, so they have trouble swallowing. The pain comes on suddenly.

They may also have a headache and lower stomach pain or nausea. General feelings of unwellness or fatigue can accompany strep infections.

Other symptoms that indicate strep throat

In addition to sudden, intense throat pain, your child may also run a fever. They’ll have body aches and chills. Sometimes they develop a rash on their body. 

You can also look for swelling and red and white patches in the throat and loss of appetite. 

Take the pulse of the community

Strep throat is highly contagious. It’s caused by a bacteria that contaminates the nose and throat, so your child can be easily exposed to it from an infected person’s sneeze, cough, or touch of the hand. 

If you hear of other kids in your child’s playgroup having strep, note other parents posting about strep on social media, or otherwise hear that strep is “going around,” it’s very possible your child’s sore throat is strep, too.

So, what do I do?

If your child has a mild sore throat and no fever or accompanying symptoms, help your child stay hydrated. Sometimes, a sore throat is simply a result of dryness. If the mild sore throat persists for more than a day or two, it’s a good idea to call our office for a sick visit.

A child who has a fever, nausea, rash, fatigue, chills, and/or body aches along with a sore throat should get a strep test. 

We do in-office rapid strep tests that give you results in just a few minutes. Your doctor uses a cotton swab to take a sample of cells from the back of the throat and cultures it in the office.

If the rapid test comes back negative but your doctor still suspects strep throat, they’ll send the results to a lab. Your results come back in a couple of days.

Treatment for strep throat

Because a bacterial infection causes strep throat, antibiotics should clear up the symptoms in about 3-4 days. Within about 24 hours of taking antibiotics, your child will no longer be contagious and any fever should go down. 

Even though your child starts to feel better, you need to have them take the entire course of antibiotics to wipe out the infection. The antibiotics prevent other complications of strep that include rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, kidney disease, and blood infections. 

Minimize spread of strep throat by making sure no one in the household shares food, drinks, or towels with your infected child. Make sure they cover their mouth when they sneeze. Also, remind everyone in the house to wash their hands with soap and water often.

If you need to schedule a sick visit, strep test, or other appointment, call one of the offices of Penguin Pediatrics in Ashburn or Stone Ridge, Virginia, or use our online booking tool to schedule your visit.

You Might Also Enjoy...

Three Wart Treatments to Consider for Your Child

Warts are common in children and not usually of serious medical concern. But, warts can be ugly and uncomfortable. Here are three treatments to consider if you’re ready to get rid of your child’s warts for good.

What Happens During My Child's Sports Physical?

A sports physical focuses on aspects of your child’s health that are relevant to playing a sport and helps them avoid injury during practice or games. Here’s what your child (and you) can expect to happen at this important visit.

What Your Child's School Should Know About Their ADHD

ADHD gets in the way of learning by making your child fidgety, distracted, and chatty. You can help the school know what to do to help your child thrive and not disrupt class. Here’s what to tell them about your child’s ADHD.

My Child Has a Wart: Now What?

Warts are harmless growths, but they can be unattractive or located in areas that are uncomfortable or even painful to your child. If your child has a wart, here’s what you can do.