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Your Healthy Family: Knock Out Strep Throat (And Keep it from Coming Back)

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Although strep throat tends to strike during cold and flu season, there are hallmark traits of strep that distinguish it from a cold. Although strep throat tends to strike during cold and flu season, there are hallmark traits of strep that distinguish it from a cold.
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Strep throat can be a real problem for some during the colder weather months.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that group A strep disease (strep throat) affects between 11,000 and 13,000 people each year.

According to Elaine Schulte, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic Children’s, strep throat is most common among school-aged children between the months of November and May.  Although strep throat tends to strike during cold and flu season, there are hallmark traits of strep that distinguish it from a cold.

“Typically, strep throat begins with a very sore throat,” said Dr. Schulte.  “Usually the child has a fever and nothing else, whereas a cold, that’s caused by many different types of viruses; typically presents with congestion, or runny nose; can have a sore throat, can have a fever, but not always.”

Dr. Schulte said another tell-tale sign of strep in a child is swollen or tender lymph nodes, which would not be present with a cold Diagnosis and treatment Strep is a bacteria that sits in the back of the throat.  It is spread through coughing, sneezing, unwashed hands and sharing of objects like towels and toothbrushes.

Dr. Schulte said parents who suspect their child has strep should bring them to the doctor right away, as a throat culture done in a doctor’s office is the only way to diagnose it for sure.  A ten day antibiotic regimen is the best course of treatment.

It is possible for strep bacteria to live in the back of the throat and not make a person sick, yet at the same time, it can cause cases of recurring strep within families.

“Often times when children get a viral infection, they come into the doctor, the parent is worried about strep, the doctor tests for strep and they find it in the back of their throat, even though they look like they really have a viral infection, they think they have strep throat, the doctor will prescribe antibiotics and the same thing happens over and over again,” said Dr. Schulte.

Dr. Schulte suggests if strep seems to be recurring within the family, it’s best to bring children in the office when they are well, so that the doctor can check to see if they are a carrier and give them appropriate treatment.

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