If your child wakes up in the morning with a sore throat, you might suspect an oncoming cold, since a sore throat usually accompanies a cold virus. However, if the pain does not fade and your child starts to run a high fever, you should make an appointment with your doctor or take your child to urgent care for medical treatment. Here's why it's important to see a doctor when your child has a sore throat and fever.
Strep infection is common in children, and it usually comes with the sore throat and fever. Strep infections don't seem serious to parents anymore because they are so common and because they are easily treated. However, the infection needs prompt treatment because if it is not treated properly, the infection can spread, leading to complications that are much more serious.
Scarlet fever and its cousin rheumatic fever are both caused by untreated strep infections or strep infections that are not treated fully. Rheumatic fever is especially serious as it can begin to damage tissue in the joints and the heart, requiring extensive medical intervention.
When you take your child to urgent care, the physician will examine the throat area. A strep infection causes the area to appear very bright red, and the tonsils can also appear to be swollen. After looking for physical signs, most clinics run a rapid strep tests, which only takes a few minutes to diagnose strep. They will also take a culture for a test that takes longer to complete.
Some rapid strep tests do not detect strep bacteria when it is present, but the longer test does catch it. If the rapid test is negative, the doctor might do a blood draw to test for white blood cell count, which indicates bacterial infection. Then, even if the rapid test is negative, your child can still take antibiotics if the white cell count indicates infection while you wait for the results of the bacterial culture strep test.
Antibiotics are the treatment for strep throat, and it is the area where some people can go wrong. Usually, children take oral medication for a prescribed course of time, usually 5-10 days, depending on the type of antibiotic prescribed and the judgment of the doctor. It's important for parents to continue to give their children the full course of medication, especially for strep throat, because any lingering bacteria can still lead to rheumatic fever. Treat a fever with over-the-counter fever reducers, and keep your child home until they are recovered to prevent the spread of infection.
Rach out to a place like the Walk -In Family Medicine Center for more information and guidance.