Tampa Bay Parenting 2015 Strep Vs. Cold

Strep Vs. Common Cold

When your child has a sore throat it can be easy to blame the common cold, but strep throat may actually be the culprit. While both are contagious, strep throat needs to be treated as soon as possible, so knowing the symptoms is important. Dr. Jennifer Pesce, a pediatrician with BayCare Medical Group answered one of the biggest questions of the school year: is it strep, or a cold?

What is strep throat and what causes it?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat and its caused by the streptococcal or strepyogenes bacteria.

What are symptoms of strep throat?
Usually kids will present with a fever or sore throat, but they may have other symptoms like a headache or a stomach ache as well. With strep you may also see white spots on the tonsils or swollen glands.

How can you tell the difference between a cold and strep?
If you have a lot of nasal congestion and coughing and a sore throat it is more likely caused by a cold rather than strep throat. Having the absence of a runny nose or a cough leads us to believe it may be strep throat. Also, you can have fever with both strep and a cold but it is usually more common with strep throat infection than it is when your child has a cold.

What causes a common cold?
The common cold is caused by a virus. In fact, it can be multiple different viruses that can cause it.

How is strep throat treated?
We do an antibiotic and it is either an antibiotic for ten days or we can do a one time injection with the antibiotic.

Is strep more contagious than a cold?
Unfortunately they are all pretty much the same.

How is strep diagnosed?
There is a throat swab that we can do that will diagnose strep throat in the office in five minutes. If it is negative we also perform a throat culture to make sure that we are not just catching it too early and that the rapid test did not just miss the strep infection.

Is strep throat pretty common?
Yes, it is very common. Kids don’t ever outgrow strep throat, it just seems more common in kids because they are sharing germs much more frequently than adults share germs.

Is there anything parents can do?
Talk to your child’s pediatrician if you think your child has strep or a cold. It is really important to keep a good dialogue about when to send them back to school and how the antibiotics that are being prescribed work.