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Strep throat in babies.
A child’s deteriorating health can prove to be quite worrisome especially if a certain condition keeps making a timely reappearance. Determining the underlying cause should be the number one priority when you start seeing symptoms in a child that are troubling him/her.
Viral sore throats and strep throats are two such conditions which keep reappearing when a child has:
- A weak immune system.
- Plays/studies/ perform other activities around people who are infection prone or carriers of bacteria or viruses.
- The symptoms are ignored at first and then worsen due to the same.
If you don’t know exactly what a strep throat is, then it’s easy to confuse it for the flu or a normal sore throat. This worsens symptoms and causes a lot of discomfort to your child.
Causes of strep throat in babies.
Strep throat is caused by a Group A bacterium called streptococcus. This bacterium when introduced to a person can make the body a breeding place and cause problems. It infects the throat and tonsils causing inflammation in the same. To understand streptococcus, let us first understand what bacterial infections are.
What are bacterial infections?
Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria, but it isn’t as simple as it sounds. Not all bacteria are harmful, and some are even needed for carrying out certain operations/processes in the body. They thrive in open areas, on objects, or in intestines. The good ones promote a healthy environment in our bodies, and the bad ones are what cause infections and other diseases. They are called pathogenic bacteria and can be fought off with antibiotics, but they usually end up killing the good bacteria as well. That is why until new ones are formed or ingested, our bodies feel out of place and face various side effects from the medications. Bacterium is necessary to have a good immune system. The bad ones cause diseases like strep throat, tuberculosis and UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). It is important to flush these out to prevent them from multiplying and causing irreparable harm over time. Antibiotics do not work on viruses, and that’s how they’re usually differentiated.
Let’s reflect on the initial causes we stated about how strep throat happens, and why children are the most prone to this infection.
1. A weak immune system.
If you have a weakened immune system, it can be difficult for your body to fight back and prevent the bacterium from causing harm to your body. Therefore, children should make sure they eat a balanced diet to ward off infections caused by outer sources.
2. Being around people with strep throat.
This is the main cause of infection in children. A person with strep throat can spread it to others just by touching objects, sneezing or sometimes even talking in close vicinity. Direct contact with the bacteria can easily transfer it to another child. This is why children should prevent sharing objects and always wash their hands thoroughly. Parents should always closely observe children for any odd symptoms or discomfort they might be facing.
3. Ignoring symptoms.
Usually, a parent or a guardian may ignore symptoms such as a sore throat, fever, etc. because they resemble those of a viral infection. Viral infections are not severe and go away on their own with some aid from over the counter medications. It is important to know what differentiates a sore throat from strep throat and the measures that need to be taken to stop the disease from progressing.
Strep throat vs a Viral sore throat
While the symptoms of both may appear similar, the characteristics are very different.
- A strep throat starts as a dry itch at the back of the throat and redness due to scratching. A sore throat caused by viral might start as the same, but is usually isn’t dry for long periods.
- Strep throat causes inflammation of the tonsils and throat while a sore throat only causes redness and some pain.
- The inflamed tonsils can sometimes be puss filled depending on the severity of the condition. A sore throat will start healing on its own or with the help of a lot of fluids.
- A strep throat needs a professional diagnosis while a viral infection can be diagnosed at home.
- Both are accompanied by high fever.
- Both cause a headache and weakness in the body.
How can you help your child if he/she has strep throat?
Yes, strep throat is very common among children, but as a parent your concern is fair. To help your child during an uncomfortable time like this, read on.
- Encourage him/her to get plenty of rest. The way to a speedy recovery isn’t filled with homework or school attendance but with proper rest and zero stress.
- Let your child miss school or classes for a few days until symptoms relieve. Doing this will also ensure that your child doesn’t spread the infection to classmates or playmates. As the infection is highly contagious, anyone around your child could contract it.
- Replace your child’s old toothbrush so that the bacteria don’t interrupt the ongoing treatment.
- Refrain from cold food or liquids and make sure your child only drinks or eats warm water or food. Serve them a balanced meal and also one that is easily digested.
Symptoms of strep throat in babies and why you should see a doctor immediately.
Strep throat if left untreated or unattended to can pose risks to the lungs, kidneys, heart valves, etc. This cannot be compromised when it comes to children so if you observe the following symptoms, and it’s time to seek medical help immediately.
- A dry itch in the back of the throat that keeps getting worse.
- Redness in the throat.
- Swollen tonsils.
- Fever that doesn’t subside.
- Dry wheezing.
- A skin rash.
- A sore throat and swollen glands.
- White patches in the throat that may or may not be puss filled.
- Difficulty swallowing.
How is strep throat diagnosed?
There are two ways to determine if a child has strep throat. Both of these can only be carried out by a certified health provider/general physician. They are:
1. Rapid Strep Test
In this test, the doctor takes a sample of the fluids at the back of the throat with a cotton swab. This test immediately determines if a child has strep throat or not although sometimes the result could be a false negative. In this case, another test called throat culture is conducted.
2. Throat Culture
This test doesn’t provide immediate results but is a sure-fire way to identify streptococcal bacteria. A sterile cotton swab is rubbed at the back of the throat or on the infected area which is then passed on to a laboratory for testing. Streptococcus will grow on this swab within a day or two if present, in turn confirming results.
Home remedies to relieve strep throat.
While one must ingest antibiotics prescribed by the doctor, there are some home remedies for strep throat as well that help with recovery without causing side effects.
- Gargling with warm salt water at least twice a day is the easiest available ingredient and can help relieve pain.
- Milk with turmeric powder has amazing healing properties for almost every infection. One glass before bedtime should do wonders.
- Plenty of water. That’s right; water combats a lot of throat infections and prevents your child from facing too many side effects due to antibiotics.
- Garlic is another great ingredient that helps get rid of strep throat. Mixing raw garlic with honey to create a paste, and then taking one teaspoon every day will give one garlic breath but it will also relieve symptoms tremendously.
- Apple cider vinegar has excellent antibacterial properties, and that’s why it can be a great cure for strep throat. Beware though, it is highly acidic, and if not diluted properly it can worsen the symptoms. One needs to gargle by mixing apple cider vinegar with water and for maximum effect, try adding honey.
- Vitamin D is necessary for children, and the shortage of it can lead to some diseases. Having calcium-rich foods, soaking some early morning sun, etc. can help heal strep throat.
- Chicken soup is an age-old remedy for the flu and guess what, it works the same to heal strep throat as well. Make sure the soup is warm though, not piping hot.
- Ghee with a pinch of black pepper is another age-old remedy that has proven to be effective because of ghee’s anti-inflammatory properties.
- If your child is a toddler, breast milk is a great alternative. Rich in antibodies, breast milk combats various types of bacteria and viruses to help keep the baby healthy.
The most important thing to remember if your child has strep throat is to give him/her plenty of time to recover. Never discontinue antibiotics and complete the entire course prescribed by the physician to avoid any relapses. Children need more healing than adults do, as their growing years should be shaped with fond memories and not memories of ailments. This can only be ensured by giving them constant love and attention; the best remedy for every illness.