Experts at Dubai London Clinic offers tips on protecting your child from strep...
28 August 2019| Last updated on 2 September 2019
School is several things—it is the place where our children learn and develop cognitively, gain social skills, thrive to become self-sufficient and productive members of society.
Nevertheless, it can also, occasionally, be a place where they may pick up germs and bring them home. Now that school is in session, children can bring back home a `horde` of nasty germs and ailments.
Amongst the most common of these is the `Strep Throat`! All parents dread hearing this phrase, “Mom/Dad, my throat hurts”. Instantly, their train of thought is running full speed with images of several days with high fever, inability to eat, and pain. Maybe you have heard people talking about the strep throat going around at your child’s school. But what exactly is it?
Even though strep throat can affect anyone, it is extremely common among school-age children and teenagers; 5 through 15 years old. This common and highly contagious infection occurs very often during the school year when large groups of students are in close contact with each other in classrooms.
Caused by group A streptococcus bacteria, strep throat often leads to agonizing throat pain that is associated with difficult and painful swallowing or even speaking. High fever is very likely, and it tends to get worse a few days into the illness rather than improve. Headache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or even skin rash can associate the pain. The tonsils can be swollen with overlying streaks of pus. Moreover, the infection may result in swollen and tender lymph nodes in the child's neck.
The causative bacteria tend to reside in the throat and nose. So when a child with strep throat coughs or sneezes, the air becomes studded with minute droplets carrying the bacteria. If nearby students breathe in these droplets, they can get infected. Moreover, the bacteria can linger on surfaces such as desk surfaces, doorknobs, and water faucets for a while. With the children touching those surfaces with their hands, routine acts such as hand-shaking or rubbing the nose can easily spread the infection.
If your child starts complaining from a sore throat, especially if associated with fever, it would be wiser to consider consulting your child's paediatrician. It can be challenging to be sure whether your child is suffering from strep throat or not without proper professional evaluation. If your child's paediatrician is concerned about a possible strep throat infection, he will swab the back of your child's throat to collect a test sample. If testing proves positive, an antibiotic course has to be started at once to avoid potential complications (such as rheumatic fever). Proper antibiotic treatment will resolve the infection efficiently as well as swiftly reduce the possibility of spreading the illness to the rest of the family.
Protect Your Child and Others
While there is no vaccine against strep throat, there is a lot you can do to protect your child from this contagious and common school-age ailment:
1. Teach your child about proper handwashing
Hand washing is fundamental for preventing the spread of germs everywhere, including classrooms. Teach your child to wash his hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds with clean, running water and soap. He should lather his hands (front and back) by rubbing them together, as well as between the fingers and at the fingertips. After rinsing his hands under the running water, he can dry it with paper towel or an air dryer. If no running water is available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used instead.
2. Teach your child about covering his face on coughing or sneezing
It is crucial for your child's health -and others- to learn to hide his cough or sneeze. Make sure you teach him to use a tissue to cover his face. If no tissue is handy, he may use his sleeve (but not his hands!) to cover his face. Some children cover their face with their hands upon sneezing or coughing, and then they move around touching everything (doorknobs, desks, books, etc.). This act virtually makes everyone in the classroom a potential victim.
3. Teach your child not to share his personal items
If you want to decrease your child's propensity for infection, one right way is to teach him to keep his things personal. Items such as earphones, musical instruments, towels, sporting gear, and of course, water bottles should not be shared among classmates to minimize the risks of infection spread.
The new academic year is starting, and so is the possibility of that painful strep throat infection! It is an ailment many parents have heard of and quite possibly dealt with before. You can do something to protect your child. A well-balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper hygiene teaching can go a long way in reducing your child's chances of contracting strep throat.
At the Dubai London Clinic and Speciality Hospital, our paediatricians pride themselves on providing compassionate and comprehensive preventative and therapeutic services to all children from birth through adolescence within a warm and child-friendly environment.
We wish your splendid child a successful, thriving, and healthy academic year.
Authored by The Department of Paediatrics