(RxWiki News) As the school year starts, it's important to learn some key facts about strep throat and how it can affect your kids.
Strep throat is a common cause of a sore throat. While viruses are the most common causes of sore throat, strep is actually caused by a type of bacteria: group A Streptococcus bacteria.
Strep throat is a common type of sore throat in children. It's particularly common between the ages of 5 and 15. But that doesn't mean adults are immune to strep.
Adults who have school-age children or who are often around children (such as coaches and teachers) face a raised risk of getting sick with strep throat.
As your child heads back to school, learn some key facts about strep throat by reading the FAQ below.
How is strep throat spread?
Strep throat is spread through coughing and sneezing. Coughing and sneezing create small respiratory droplets that contain bacteria. If you breathe in these bacteria-filled droplets or touch a surface these droplets have touched and then touch your mouth or nose, you can get strep throat.
Sharing cups, plates and utensils with someone who has strep throat can also spread this bacteria.
What are the symptoms of strep?
Sore throat is the most common symptom. Besides a sore throat, you may experience a fever.
With strep throat, if you have a sore throat, it will likely happen very quickly. You may also experience pain when swallowing.
If you look at the tonsils, you may notice that they are red and swollen. You may even see white patches (pus) or tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth.
If you have a cough or a runny nose, this may mean your sore throat is the result of a virus and not a bacterium like the one that causes strep throat.
How is strep throat diagnosed?
A doctor will perform a rapid strep test or throat culture to determine whether the sore throat is indeed strep throat. Strep throat cannot be diagnosed by simply looking at the throat.
If you or your child has been diagnosed with strep throat, health experts recommend staying home from work, school, or day care until any fever is gone and you or your child has taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours.
How is strep throat treated?
Antibiotics like penicillin and amoxicillin can help treat the bacteria and prevent the spread of strep throat to others.
If you or your child has been prescribed an antibiotic, make sure to finish the entire regimen even if you start to feel better.
How can you protect yourself?
Wash your hands often. This is especially important after coughing or sneezing, as well as before preparing foods or eating.
Ask your health care provider any questions you have about strep throat.
Written by Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS