Strep Throat in Children

Strep throat is most common in children ages 5 to 15. But anyone, at any age can develop strep.

    Remarkable Care for Kids

    • Expert pediatric care: Pediatricians at Rush offer expert care to children with a wide range of illnesses, including strep throat.
    • Comprehensive care: Primary care physicians at Rush provide comprehensive care to adults and children with a number of illnesses, including strep throat.

    What is strep throat?

    Strep is a contagious infection in your throat and tonsils that is caused by group A strep bacteria.

    Strep can make you feel very ill with a painful sore throat, fever and chills; however, antibiotics can help you get back to health quickly.

    If left untreated, strep throat can lead to rare but serious health problems, including the following:

    • Rheumatic fever
    • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a rare kidney complication)
    • Glomerulonephritis

    Strep throat: what you should know

    • Strep throat spreads easily from person to person through droplets from a sneeze or cough. You can also catch or pass strep through close contact, such as drinking from the same cup, sharing food and kissing.
    • You or your child should stay home from work or school for 24 to 48 hours after starting antibiotics. This lessens the likelihood of spreading strep throat to others.
    • The most effective way to prevent strep throat is to wash your hands regularly and avoid sharing food and utensils with others.
    • Antibiotics are the most effective treatment for strep throat.

    How can I get help for strep throat?

    Talk to your primary care doctor or your child’s pediatrician if you or your child has any of the following strep throat symptoms:

    • Sudden sore throat
    • Pain when swallowing
    • Fever
    • Red, swollen tonsils
    • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
    • Body aches
    • Chills
    • Rash, appearing first on your neck and chest

    These symptoms do not automatically mean you have strep throat. A number of other conditions have similar symptoms. Your doctor at Rush can perform a strep test by swabbing your throat to determine if it is strep.

    Care for strep throat at Rush

    If you have or suspect that you have strep throat, your doctor at Rush can diagnose and treat you to help you feel better quickly.

    • Rapid strep test: Your doctor can perform a rapid strep test in the office by swabbing the back of your throat to determine if group A strep is causing your symptoms. Your results will be ready immediately.
    • Throat culture: If your rapid strep test is negative, but your doctor still suspects strep, your doctor might do a throat culture that offers a more comprehensive evaluation of what is causing your sore throat. Results from this test take about one to two days.
    • Antibiotics: Antibiotics are the most effective strep throat treatment. You will need to take antibiotics for a week or two, but you should start feeling better within two days.

    If you are not feeling better after being on antibiotics for two days, call your doctor. You might need additional tests or stronger medications.