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Strep Throat in Children

Symptoms of Strep Throat in Children

In general, kids older than three with strep throat have at least two out of four of these signs or symptoms:
  • A red and painful throat that begins suddenly
  • A fever above 101ºF (38.3ºC)
  • Red and enlarged tonsils -- there may also be white patches of pus on the tonsils or in the throat
  • Tender or swollen lymph glands in the neck.
A child with strep throat may also have:
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • White patches of pus on the tonsils or in the throat
  • A headache.
Loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal (stomach) pain can also occur. These symptoms are more common in children than in adults.
A cough and/or runny nose do not usually occur in someone with strep throat. These symptoms are more common with a sore throat caused by a virus. It is also uncommon for a child with strep throat to have a sore throat for more than one week.
Toddlers and infants usually do not have the classic signs of strep throat.
(Click Strep Throat in Infants to learn about symptoms that might be seen in infants or young children.)

How Is It Diagnosed?

If you think your child might have strep throat, you should visit your child's healthcare provider. If your child is diagnosed with strep, antibiotic treatment is important for a couple of reasons, including:
With treatment, these situations are largely eliminated.
To diagnose strep throat, your child's healthcare provider will do a throat swab, which takes a sample of fluids from the back of the throat. This sample will be used for a throat culture, or a rapid strep test. These tests look for signs of the bacteria that cause strep throat.
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Strep Throat Information

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