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Caused by and named after a type of bacteria called group A streptococcus, strep throat is a common illness of childhood that can have a draining effect on young patients and their parents. You had strep throat several times as a child, and even now, you can easily recall the sore throat, pain while swallowing, fever and chills it caused. Use these do's and don'ts to help them avoid strep throat or, failing that, get rid of it as quickly as possible:

• Do encourage frequent handwashing. As with so many contagious illnesses, handwashing is the best method of prevention.

• Don't share eating or drinking utensils. If an infected family member uses those items, they may acquire the bacteria and become ill themselves.

• Do promote proper hygiene. Ask your children to cough or sneeze into their sleeves, especially if they have a sore throat. Contact with airborne droplets containing the bacteria is a key form of strep throat transmission.

• Don't take complaints of a sore throat lightly. Examine for other symptoms of strep throat, including a fever -- typically at least 101 degrees -- inflamed tonsils, red spots on the roof of the mouth and swollen lymph nodes in the neck.

• Do go to your provider or an urgent care clinic as quickly as possible. The sooner a medical provider can confirm strep throat -- taking samples of their throat mucus with a cotton swab should yield answers -- the sooner you can start taking antibiotics to fight the bacteria.

• Don't stop taking the antibiotics before they're gone, even if symptoms improve. Finishing full courses of medication as prescribed helps prevent recurrence.

• Do what you can to keep comfortable while the antibiotic works to clear the infection. Get plenty of rest, eat sore throat-friendly foods, such as mashed potatoes, and take over-the-counter pain relievers or lozenges to reduce discomfort. Antibiotics typically do their job quickly -- and you may begin to feel better in as few as two days.

Does your family need care that is quick and convenient? Northwest Health Urgent Care -- Siloam Springs is close by to help treat everything from sore throats to broken bones. No appointment needed. Visit to check in online or call 479-215-3080 for more information.

General News on 12/31/2017

Print Headline: Are you ready to pass the strep test?

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