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Strep Throat Symptoms

Expert Q&A


Updated June 10, 2014

Updated June 10, 2014
Q. My son developed a fever last night and is complaining of a sore throat. His glands seems slightly swollen. He does not have any type of rash and he is not vomiting. He used to get chronic tonsilitis when he was younger but seems to have outgrown that some. His symptoms now are very similar to what he experiences with the tonsilitis. He has done nothing but lay on my bed or the couch for the last two days. Do you think I should take him to the Dr or should I wait to see if he worsens? I feel I always call the Dr too quickly and he gets diagnosed with a virus that we have to just let "run its course." Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Jennifer, West Chester, PA

A. While you generally don't want to run to the doctor every time that your child has typical viral symptoms, like a runny nose and cough, it is a little different for sore throats.

Because he might have strep throat, you likely should see your Pediatrician and get a strep test when your child has classic symptoms, including the sudden onset of:

  • fever
  • sore throat (pain on swallowing)
  • red tonsils that might have a thick white exudate (pus) on them
  • swollen lymph nodes (glands)
  • the sandpaper-like rash of scarlet fever
  • other associated symptoms, like a headache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting
On the other hand, if your child has a sore throat and many other viral symptoms, like a cough, diarrhea, pink eye, mouth ulcers, hoarse voice, or runny nose, then you may just let it "run its course," since it is less likely to be strep.

Keep in mind that even though your child may get better without antibiotics when he has strep throat, it can put him at risk of developing rheumatic fever.

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