Strep Test Questions and Answers
Kidswood Pediatrics is devoted to helping your little ones improve their health. We offer strep testing and also provide treatments for this bacterial infection in Winter Park, FL. For more information, contact us.
Strep throat is an infection of the throat and tonsils caused by the bacteria group A Streptococcus. Sometimes shortened to group A strep, this type of bacteria is highly contagious and causes symptoms of cough; dry, scratchy throat; loss of appetite; body chills; fever; and swollen lymph nodes. It is characterized by white dots on the back of the throat as well as small red dots on the back of the roof of the mouth. Strep throat is often treated with antibiotics.
What is a strep test and why is it done?
Strep A (or group A strep) is a type of bacteria that causes strep throat and other infections. Strep throat is an infection that affects the throat and tonsils and is spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. While it is possible to get strep throat at any age, it is most common in children ages 5 to 15. A strep test is a diagnostic tool that looks for an active infection of strep throat. It is performed to confirm a diagnosis or aid in the diagnostic process. Strep throat can be easily treated with antibiotics, but if left untreated, it can develop into serious complications. A healthcare provider may order a strep A test if symptoms of strep throat are present, including:
- A sudden and severe sore throat
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Fever of 101° or more
- Swollen lymph nodes
Strep A tests are also ordered if signs of scarlet fever are present, including a rough, red rash that starts on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. Scarlet fever can develop a few days after a person has been infected with strep A and is most common in children. Scarlet fever is easily treated with antibiotics. If symptoms such as a cough or runny nose accompany a sore throat, it is more likely caused by a viral infection rather than strep throat.
How is a strep test done?
There are two types of strep tests:
- Rapid Strep Test: This test looks for antigens substances that cause an immune response to strep A. A rapid strep test can provide results in about 15 minutes, so treatment can be started soon in the case of a positive result. If a rapid test comes back negative, but the provider thinks your child has strep throat, they may order a throat culture.
- Throat Culture: This test looks for strep A bacteria and provides a more accurate diagnosis than a rapid test. Although it is more accurate, it can take 24–48 hours to get results.
A rapid test and a throat culture follow the same protocol; during the procedure:
- The patient will be asked to tilt their head back and open their mouth as wide as possible
- The healthcare provider will use a tongue depressor to hold down the patient’s tongue
- The provider will then use a special swab to take a sample from the back of the throat and tonsils
The sample may be used to do a rapid strep test in the provider’s office, or it may be sent to the lab for further testing. If necessary, the healthcare provider may take a second sample and send it to a lab for a throat culture.
What does a positive strep test mean?
A positive strep throat test result indicates an active infection with the strep A bacteria. If symptoms are not already present, they will likely appear soon, which may include: fever; headache; swollen glands in the neck; sore throat; and white spots or red dots on the back of the throat/roof of the mouth.
Kidswood Pediatrics is devoted to helping your little ones improve their health. We offer strep testing and also provide treatments for this bacterial infection. Call us today to book an appointment, or visit our clinic conveniently located at 1680 Lee Road, Winter Park, FL 32789. We look forward to serving you! We serve patients from Winter Park FL, Goldenrod FL, Lockhart FL, Maitland FL, Bertha FL, and Slavia FL.