Today we’re chatting strep throat. What to watch for, what is likely strep or likely isn’t…
This episode was inspired by my post on strep throat.
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** I meant that you can find the test at WALMART — find them here.
Strep is SUPER contagious, what to do?
In this episode
Strep throat vs GBS — what are the different types of strep.
Producer: Drew Erickson
Check out my other parenting podcasts:
[00:00:00.130] – Hilary Erickson
Hey, guys, welcome back to the Pulling Curls Podcast. Today on episode 149, we are talking about strep throat. I know we all think I only know about lady bits, but at one point in time I was a strep throat expert. So let’s untangle it.
[00:00:24.090] – Hilary Erickson
Hi I’m Hilary Erickson, the curly head behind the Pulling Curls Podcast, where we untangle pregnancy, parenting, home, and even travel. We know there’s no right answer for every family, but hopefully we can spark some ideas that will work for yours. Life’s tangled, just like my hair.
[00:00:48.730] – Hilary Erickson
And now a word from our lawyer. Hilary is a nurse, but she is not your nurse. This podcast is for entertainment purposes only. Please take the advice of your provider who understands your needs and circumstances. Thank you.
[00:01:03.790] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, guys, before we get started, I feel like if you don’t leave me a review that could just give you bad Karma that you might end up getting strep throat. I’m just putting that out there. I don’t want to, like, causation, but leaving a review.. could it hurt?
[00:01:16.890] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, so before I worked labor and delivery, I used to work for a pediatrician and that was my job during nursing school, I had my LPN and I worked there maybe three years. And I used to do their night emergency clinic. I mean, not emergencies like people car accidents weren’t coming to us, but it was mostly things that really needed to be solved that evening.
[00:01:36.950] – Hilary Erickson
Lots of ear infections, lots of kids who thought they had strep throat. So I really became an expert at talking through this with parents on the phone. So first off, what is strep throat? It’s caused by a Streptococcus bacteria. There are like a bajillion Streptococcus bacteria and it’s actually different than the beta strep that we are searching for when you have a baby.
[00:02:04.550] – Hilary Erickson
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[00:02:42.030] – Hilary Erickson
So strep throat is caused by Streptococcus group A, which is we’re looking for beta strep when we’re checking before the baby is born. So strep A can cause all sorts of issues, but the main one that they’re concerned about is getting into your heart and making problems there. So if you remember Beaches, she could have had something similar to strep throat that caused an issue with her heart.
[00:03:03.700] – Hilary Erickson
So that would be called myocarditis, and it can cause other issues as well. And actually, strep throat also causes what they term Scarlet fever, which is like a red rash, almost like a sunburn all over their body. So if your kid breaks out in a red rash that looks like that, that’s something you definitely want to call your provider about. It is another symptom of strep throat, which is crazy because it’s strep body at that point.
[00:03:23.980] – Hilary Erickson
Okay, so strep throat can easily be detected through either a culture that’s like the gold standard. They would put it on a little petri dish and see what grows out. Or they have what’s called a rapid strip. So that is a test, just like a COVID test or pregnancy test, where you take a swab of the things that are on your tonsils and see if it does that chain reaction and it can come up positive that yes, you have strapped the gold standard is to do a rapid and a culture, but it’s kind of expensive.
[00:03:50.670] – Hilary Erickson
So I actually have rapid strep tests at my house. We’ll talk a little bit more about why and how that all works. So every sore throat is not strep throat. I have a child who shall rename nameless, whose tonsils are ginormous. They are huge. I honestly have no idea how she swallows, but she gets sore throats kind of frequently.
[00:04:08.510] – Hilary Erickson
And so it’s just nice to know now when you look in your kid’s throat, you’re going to want them to stick out their tongue and say, Ah, saying awe lifts kind of lowers their tongue so that you can see the tonsils a little bit better. I don’t use a tongue depressor. I rarely actually use the tongue depressor when I would do strep tests on kids because I think it makes them gag even more so if they just lower their tongue and say the tonsils are what are on the left and the right at the back of your throat, they usually look like little balls. They’re about the size of like a blueberry unnamed child’s are probably the size of a grape. But they’re just hanging out there back in this road and they’re kind of like dimpled.
[00:04:44.270] – Hilary Erickson
They can have little crevices. And so strep throat normally looks white on those. As the strep bacteria grows, it creates a white exudate that is on your tonsils. And that’s when we would go in to culture it. We go in and we try and get some of that white stuff off of your tonsils. But there are some telltale signs that show that it isn’t strap. Now, if your child has just your basic cold, where they have a runny nose and a sore throat, most often it isn’t strep unless it’s strep with a cold tadah. And also if your kids coughing, that’s usually not strap. So you can have a bit of a runny nose with strep. Just because in kids, especially all of the nose ears, throat are all so close to each other, they can be affected a little bit. But as an adult in general, when you have strep, you don’t have like a runny nose or a cough or things like that. They could be coughing because their tonsils are so big, but that’s more of a gagging cough. And I think even kids or you will notice that that’s a little bit different.
[00:05:36.730] – Hilary Erickson
And in kids, there are symptoms of strep throat that are not the same as what you might have as an adult. A lot of times they’ll be super nauseated. They could just have headaches. Again with strep, they could have a fever, and sometimes they have neck pain. One time I had strep and my biggest symptom was pain in the back of my neck. And there was a little bit of a nodule there. And when they cultured me, I was positive for strep. So I had strep, like so many times in high school. I think I was a strap carrier until they gave me two bicycle and shots. Those are like the white penicillin shots. They gave me two of those in my bum and it totally made it go away. But I had to have that in order to get rid of it because I think it just would sort of get better and then would come roaring back because it was like ten times, I think, my sophomore year. So yeah, antibiotics, thank goodness. So what can you do if your kid complains of a sore throat? First thing you’ll want to do is try and look back there.
[00:06:29.690] – Hilary Erickson
You can just use your phone as a flashlight. I love using a pen light because kids sort of get freaked out, like when you have the whole light shining in their face, especially if they’re little. So sometimes a pen light can make it so that the Light’s just extending into their throat. You’re going to want to look back there. If they are just red and it looks red back there, it is likely not strut, but you’re going to want to keep an eye on it. But if you’re starting to see like some white pussy stuff back there, then that could definitely be a sign of strap. Now at that point, you can make the choice that you’re going to go to your doctor, which is what most people do. Or you could keep strep tests at home. The problem is all my friends are like, oh, that’s so smart. But then they don’t want to culture their kids throat. And I totally get that. But because I’ve cultured so many other kids throat, I’m fine with it. I do have a video on my website on the post that inspired this about how to culture your kids throats if you’re interested in giving it a try.
[00:07:16.100] – Hilary Erickson
One tip I have is to back my kid into a wall. So I do it into a wall because otherwise they keep pulling their head back and it’s just a big fat pain. And the faster you can get it done, then it’s just over. But it is likely that you could gag them and they may throw up or at least gag after you do it. So a lot of parents don’t want to get into that. But it’s really important that you know that it is or is not stress allergies cause sore throat. So I always think it’s fine to wait away. One thing I do is to make sure that they drink a big glass of water and just kind of see if it goes away. If the throat is just hanging out there and if the sore throat has been hanging on for a couple of days, I may just take them into the doctor’s office just to have them culture it to see if it’s stress or not, or get the strep test you can do at home. I actually found that Amazon is no longer carrying them since the Coven test thing became like a big deal, but I think you can still find them on Amazon.
[00:08:05.610] – Hilary Erickson
So I just think it’s such a pain to go into the doctor’s office, especially where I have to pay for a full visit just to do that. But a lot of times now you have to pay a copay. When I worked for a pediatrician, you used to be able to go in and just get the strep test, which was free for most people with insurance because it covers labs without a copay most often. And as an insurance, it’s so much smarter to just pay for the strep test than to pay for a doctor’s visit, because usually most moms understand that if it’s just a cold, it’s just a virus and it will run its course. They don’t really need advice from the doctor other than knowing if it’s stress or not. So you know how I love to make a great use of our healthcare dollar, and hopefully this helps you guys know if it’s tough or not. It is really important that you take it seriously, though, and to make sure that you take all of the antibiotics. It’s tempting with kids, especially if it’s hard to get the antibiotics into them to stop after day five or so.
[00:08:57.430] – Hilary Erickson
But if you stop at day five, that strep can come back and then it could be cut in penicillin resistant. That usually is what they give you if you have strep it’s the gold standard is to give penicillin. Penicillin is kind of a lighter antibiotic and you don’t want to jump to something bigger like a Z pack if you can avoid it. So I don’t feel like you just need the Z pack. I know Z packs are so great because it’s just five days worth, but if it’s just strap, try and get the penicillin. And honestly, the penicillin, they flavor it, so it’s pretty okay for kids. My kids never had a big issue with it. Now when we had excessive ear infections and we went into, like, the sulfur, those are just miserable to get down. But usually the penicillin is pretty okay. Just make sure that you take all of it. I actually had a friend who was put on antibiotics and texted me the other day and was like, I’m on day five and I feel so much better and I just stopped and I was like, no, I just started freaking out.
[00:09:44.220] – Hilary Erickson
It’s so important that you take all of those days so you can make sure that the bacteria is gone, that it’s not going to come back. Because if it comes back, it’s not going to be fixed by that antibiotic anymore. It will have mutated into something that needs to be fixed by something different. And that is what causes antibiotic resistant bacteria in our health system. So take strep seriously. If your kid has a sore throat and it’s just continuing for days, make an appointment, get a strep test, order them on Amazon. If you’re brave enough to do it, make sure that you’re taking all the antibiotics. And also, there’s so much Streptococcus on our skin. It’s not like the bacteria. Streptococcus is bad. It’s everywhere. There’s so many different brands and breeds of Streptococcus. It’s just specific ones that end up causing problems in our bodies, like group beta strep for pregnancy or strep a for sore throat. So there you go. Strap. If you guys have any questions, find this episode on Instagram. I’d be happy to answer them. Oh, one other thing is strap is super contagious. So a lot of times if you have one kid who tests positives for stress, I’m not saying that you would want to treat the other ones right away, but usually a pediatrician will say if your other ones start having a sore throat, you can probably call me and we’ll just start them on antibiotics because it is so contagious.
[00:10:55.490] – Hilary Erickson
Or you could get another strep test. Maybe they’ll just come in and let you do just the test for them because sore throats happen, especially anymore with air quality and all that kind of stuff. Sore throats 100% happen. Anyway, hopefully you guys enjoyed this episode about strep throat.
[00:11:08.730] – Hilary Erickson
Stay tuned for our final episode of season three where I’m going to talk a little bit about how I make money. It’s a question I get all the time. I think a lot of people are curious about how I could leave nursing and still keep our family afloat. So I’m going to deep dive into all that next week. So stay tuned.
[00:11:25.370] – Hilary Erickson
Thanks so much for joining us on today’s episode. We know you’re you have lots of options for your ears and we are glad that you chose us. We drop episodes weekly. And until next time, we hope you have a tangle free day.