Fort Worth, Texas,
27
September
2019
|
12:30 AM
America/Chicago

10 Cool/Weird Facts About Strep Throat

1. When a child has a sore throat, in general, there is a 37 percent chance that it is strep (Group A Strep, aka, Streptococcus pyogenes)

2. Fifteen-20 percent of kids WITH NO SYMPTOMS AT ALL will be POSITIVE FOR STREP if tested. This means 15-20 perecent of kids are strep “carriers.” A tiny amount of strep lives in their throat all the time, and it doesn’t make them sick. Let that sink in a moment. Think about all the unnecessary antibiotics kids are getting!

3. The most common symptoms of strep throat are a sore throat, fever and swollen glands in the neck. I also see kids get nauseous, have stomach aches and headaches. It’s odd – sometimes their only signs are fever and vomiting or nausea and a headache.

4. Sometimes, strep comes with a rash. We then call it “Scarlet Fever” and it is no more dangerous than just plain strep throat. Someone just gave it a cool name and then we get to feel like we are living in that computer game “Oregon Trail.”

5. Most people look at the back of the throat to see if their kiddo has strep. I don’t look there – that’s typically where drainage from the nose causes bumps and other changes. When I look for strep, I look at the tonsils and the ROOF of the mouth – the arch over that dangly thing (the uvula) to see if there are dark red spots.

6. If your child has congestion, coughing, a runny nose, watery eyes and/or diarrhea, she most likely doesn’t have strep. Chances are it’s just a cold or some allergies – and postnasal snot drip is the most common cause of sore throats in my office.

7. Strep is passed from kids to kid through “large respiratory droplets.” Yum. This means kissing, sharing drinks or food, or a sneeze or a cough either lands directly on another kid’s hand which then they put that hand in their mouth, nose, or eyes. Or, the drops land on a surface and another child touches it and touches their face somehow.

8. If you are a strep carrier, you don’t have much strep in your throat. It’s enough to catch on a strep swab, but not enough to fly out of your kid’s mouth and onto things and people (ew). Also, these bacteria aren’t as “mean” as typical strep bacteria are. So you aren’t really very contagious at all. And with 15-20 percent of kids being carriers, many of us live with them on a daily basis and are just fine.

9. I always talk with incredulous parents in the office about how “the strep came right back” after finishing antibiotics. They finished treatment and then the fever and sore throat hit again, and the test is positive again. I call these kids “strep bounce-backs” and it’s more common than you think. It doesn’t mean anything went wrong, and there are lots of explanations. Sometimes there are a lot of kids in the class passing it back and forth, and getting treated at different times. Sometimes, it is because the bacteria is hiding deep inside the tonsil folds and the antibiotic had a hard time reaching it. Changing up the antibiotic, or just repeating a course, can help it go away.

10. You can get over strep on your own, without antibiotics. Isn’t that amazing? Our immune systems are awesome. BUT, we like to treat strep with antibiotics anyway. Why? Because it makes you feel better sooner. It makes you less contagious to others (you are no longer contagious 12 hours after the first dose of Amoxicillin). And it can prevent the VERY rare complications we see with strep – when strep attacks the heart (acute rheumatic fever).

Hope this helps you to better understand strep!

❤️Dr. Diane

Get to know Diane Arnaout, M.D.

"Dr. Diane Arnaout is a pediatrician at the Cook Children's Forest Park practice. If you would like to see her at Forest Park, call 817-336-3800 or click here for an appointment. Dr. Diane has been a Cook Children’s physician since 2011.

She got her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University, went to medical school at the UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, and completed her pediatric residency in the Texas Medical Center at UT Health Science Center in Houston.

She is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics. She has two small kids, whom she credits as being her toughest (and best) teachers. She loves being a pediatrician and loves to teach parents all about their childrens’ health daily, both in-person and online.”

Click to learn more.

Comments 1 - 12 (12)
Thank you for your message. It will be posted after approval.
Jessica G
04
January
2019
Thanks for this article, but I wanted to clarify a point. Antibiotics are only helpful for preventing rheumatic heart disease, not PSGN, right? Please let me know if there is new data I am unaware of. Best regards, Jessi
Brianna Hurley
04
January
2019
No mention of PANDAS? Seems like the perfect spot to mention PANDAS and help some people.
Carolyn Rhode, M. D.
05
January
2019
I call strep throat with the sandpaper rash “Scarlett a”
Mariya
09
January
2019
I would include a mention about PANDAS in the last section as well to caution parents of other potentially rare but serious complications.
Dr. Diane Arnaout
09
January
2019
Jessica, you are correct. That was an error in my article and is being removed. That is old information; new literature suggest that treatment will not prevent PSGN. Thank you for your comment!! - Dr. Diane
Dr. Diane Arnaout
09
January
2019
Brianna, PANDAS is certainly a compelling topic, one that opens up a lot of discussion in the medical community. I wanted to keep this article as simple as possible however, and address the most common presentations of strep. PANDAS is very rare, and worthy of an article all its own. Thanks for your comment! - Dr. Diane
Jettie Whitmore
09
January
2019
This was SO VERY HELPFUL! I shared this with my campus and printed it out for my "Nurse's Notes" to share with parents. :)

Thank you!
school
20
January
2019
thx this was on my science project
Shea Curtis
20
February
2019
How common is rheumatic fever for kids that are untreated for strep? I ask this because my kids very rarely complain of a sore throat when they have strep. Sometimes they don't really even have much of a fever. They always have stomach issues with strep and that is their biggest complaint if any. I always worry about anytime they have had strep and they, or I, never knew about it so never had it treated. I worry about any damage I may have done or could do in the future because I didn't know they had strep and never had them treated.
Dr. Diane
04
March
2019
Hello Shea, Thank you for question. The prevalence of acute rheumatic fever in school aged children is less than 2 per 100,000 kids. So, very rare. The majority of the time, strep can resolve on its own eventually without causing any problems even if a child doesn’t take antibiotics. I know its worrisome to think you could be missing it, but the truth is, plenty of people are walking around with strep in their throats daily but don’t know it. And most of the time it’s no big deal! I’d just watch for those telltale stomach symptoms your kiddos have with it, and go to the pediatrician if they appear. Dr. Diane.
Sharon DRESSEL
27
September
2019
I am curious and would love to know: What was your undergraduate degree at Texas A&M. I have a fish in the Corps, pursuing a Allied Health major.
Cook Children's
02
October
2019
Hello Sharon,

Thank you for your question. Dr. Arnaout received a Biomedical Science major.