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Strep Throat in Infants

Symptoms in Infants and Young Children

The challenge in diagnosing strep throat in infants and young children is that, in many cases, they do not have the classic symptoms of strep throat (sore throat, fever, lymph node swelling in the neck, and swollen tonsils). Instead, they have more uncharacteristic symptoms. For example, infants younger than one year of age may have:
  • Low-grade fever -- less than or equal to 101ºF (38.3ºC)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Fussiness.
Toddlers younger than three years old may have:
  • Low-grade fever -- less than or equal to 101ºF (38.3ºC)
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nasal discharge
  • Tender or swollen lymph glands in the neck.
(Click Strep Throat Symptoms for more information.)

Diagnosing Strep Throat

If you think your infant might have strep throat, you should visit your child's healthcare provider. 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.

How Is Strep Throat in Infants Treated?

Strep throat is treated with antibiotics. Not only do they decrease the chances for complications, but they also help decrease the severity and length of symptoms.
In most cases, penicillin is the typical antibiotic of choice for treating strep throat. It is effective, safe, and inexpensive. Penicillin may be given as pills that are taken for 10 days, or in the form of a shot.
Infants and children may be prescribed amoxicillin instead of penicillin. The liquid form of amoxicillin is easier for infants to swallow and can also help treat a coexisting middle ear infection (otitis media), which occurs in up to 15 percent of children diagnosed with strep throat.
There are other antibiotic choices for people who are allergic to penicillin (see Strep Throat Antibiotics).
A child is no longer contagious after they have been on antibiotics for 24 hours.
(Click Strep Throat Treatment for more information, including how to treat the symptoms of a sore throat.)
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Strep Throat Information

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