Visit our foundation to give a gift.
View Locations Near Me
Main Campus – Hartford
Connecticut Children’s – Waterbury
Urgent Care – Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Danbury
Connecticut Children’s Surgery Center at Farmington
Specialty Care Center – Fairfield
Search All Locations
Find a doctor
Find A Doctor
Request an Appointment
Amenities and Services
Who’s Who on Care Team
Getting Ready for Surgery
What to Expect—Picture Stories
Pay a Bill
Understanding the Different Fees
Pricing Transparency and Estimates
Raytheon Technologies Family Resource Center
Family Advisory Council
Legal Advocacy: Benefits, Education, Housing
Electronic Health Records
Share Your Story
Pay a Bill
Login to MyChart
Clinical Support Services Referrals
About the Network
Join the Network
Graduate Medical Education
Continuing Medical Education
MOC/Practice Quality Improvement
Educating Practices in the Community (EPIC)
Learning & Performance
Meet our Physician Relations Team
Request Medical Records
Join our Referring Provider Advisory Board
View our Physician Callback Standards
Read & Subscribe to Medical News
Register for Email Updates
Update Your Practice Information
Refer a Patient
Find and Print Health Info
Health Information For Parents
Strep throat is an infection caused by a type of bacteria (group A streptococcus). Strep bacteria cause almost a third of all sore throats.
Strep throat usually needs treatment with antibiotics. With the proper medical care — and plenty of rest and fluids — most kids get back to school and play within a few days.
Symptoms of strep throat include:
Not all sore throats are strep throats. Often, kids have a sore throat because of a
, which will usually clear up without medical treatment.
Kids who do have strep throat might get other symptoms within about 3 days, such as:
Strep throat is very contagious. Anybody can get it, but most cases are in school-age kids and teens. Infections are common during the school year when big groups of kids and teens are in close quarters.
The bacteria that cause strep throat tend to hang out in the nose and throat. So normal activities like sneezing, coughing, or shaking hands can easily spread an infection from one person to another.
Kids with untreated strep throat are more likely to spread the infection when their symptoms are most severe, but can still infect others for up to 3 weeks.
That’s why it’s so important to teach kids the importance of hand washing. Good hygiene can lessen their chances of getting contagious diseases like strep throat.
If your child has a sore throat and other strep throat symptoms, call your doctor. The doctor will likely do a rapid strep test in the office, using a cotton swab to take a sample of the fluids at the back of the throat. The test only takes about 5 minutes.
If it’s positive, your child has strep throat. If it’s negative, the doctor will send a sample to a lab for a throat culture. The results are usually available within a few days.
Doctors usually prescribe about 10 days of antibiotic medicine to treat strep throat. Within about 24 hours after starting on antibiotics, your child probably won’t have a fever and won’t be contagious. By the second or third day, other symptoms should start to go away.
Even when kids feel better, they should take the antibiotics as prescribed. This is the best way to kill the harmful bacteria. Otherwise, bacteria can remain in the throat and symptoms can return. Completing all the antibiotics also prevents other health problems that a strep infection can cause, such as rheumatic fever (which can cause heart damage), scarlet fever, blood infections, or kidney disease.
To prevent spreading strep throat to others in your home:
Home care can help your child feel better while battling strep throat. Give plenty of liquids to prevent dehydration, such as water or ginger ale, especially if he or she has had a fever. Avoid orange juice, grapefruit juice, lemonade, or other acidic beverages, which can irritate a sore throat. Warm liquids like soups, sweetened tea, or hot chocolate can be soothing.
Talk to your doctor about when your child can return to normal activities. Most kids can go back to school when they’ve taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours and no longer have a fever.
Sore throats are usually caused by viruses. Here’s what to do if your child has a sore throat.
Tonsillitis is an infection that makes tonsils swollen and red. It can cause a sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and trouble swallowing.
A rapid strep test is done to help quickly determine whether a sore throat is caused by a strep infection vs. other germs (usually viruses) that don’t require antibiotic treatment.
Is your child having a strep test or a throat culture? Find out how these swab tests are performed.
A tonsillectomy is surgery to remove the tonsils. It’s one of the most common surgeries kids and teens get. Find out more.
Sinus infections, or sinusitis, are common and easily treated.
Fevers happen when the body’s internal “thermostat” raises the body temperature above normal. This is often the body’s way of fighting infections.
Pneumonia is a lung infection that can be caused by different types of germs, most commonly viruses. Read about symptoms and treatment.
If you’ve ever gone to the doctor with a really sore throat, you may have had a strep screen.
Sometimes tonsils need to be removed, but how is it done? Find out in this article for kids.
Everybody’s heard of tonsils, but not everyone knows what tonsils do in the body or why they may need to be removed. Find out here.
The test for strep throat doesn’t hurt, but it might make you gag a little. Watch how it’s done in this video for kids.
This video shows what it’s like to get a strep test.
Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don’t wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself.
Scarlet fever is an illness caused by a strep infection. It causes a red, bumpy rash that spreads over most of the body, and is treated with antibiotics.
Strep throat is a common infection that usually needs to be treated with antibiotics. Find out how to recognize the signs of strep throat and what to expect if you have it.
If your tonsils get infected, it can make your throat feel very sore. Find out more in this article for kids.
You wake up and your throat is swollen and you have a fever. Could it be tonsillitis? Find out what tonsillitis is, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.
Strep throat gives you a sore throat and makes it hard to swallow. Find out more in this article for kids.
What are fevers? Why do kids get them? Get the facts on temperatures and fevers in this article for kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2020 KidsHealth®. All rights reserved.
Images provided by The Nemours Foundation, iStock, Getty Images, Veer, Shutterstock, and Clipart.com.