If you or your child has signs and symptoms common to strep throat, make an appointment with your family doctor or a general practitioner. Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment.
Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you or your child has had, and for how long.
- Note any recent, possible sources of infection, such as a friend or family member with strep throat.
- Write down key medical information, including any other health problems and the names of any medications you or your child is taking.
- Write down your questions for the doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions ahead of time will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out.
For strep throat, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What is the most likely cause of these signs and symptoms?
- Are there any other possible causes?
- What kinds of tests are needed?
- What treatment approach do you recommend?
- How soon do you expect symptoms to improve with treatment?
- How long will this be contagious? When is it safe to return to school or work?
- What self-care steps might help?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- I or my child has other health conditions. How can they best be managed together?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask other questions.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
- What symptoms have you noticed, and how severe are they?
- Have these symptoms changed over time?
- Have these symptoms included a fever? How high?
- Have you or your child been exposed to anyone with strep throat in the last couple of weeks?
- Does anything seem to make the symptoms better or worse?
- Have you or your child been diagnosed with strep throat in the past? When? How was it treated?
- Are you or your child allergic to any medications?
- What medications are you or your child currently taking, including vitamins and supplements?
- Have you or your child been diagnosed with any other medical conditions?
What you can do in the meantime
If you think you or your child might have a strep infection, take steps to avoid spreading infection.
Dec. 20, 2012
- Keep your hands clean, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and don't share personal items.
- Gargling with 1/4 teaspoon (1.2 milliliters) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water also may help.
- Rest, fluids, soft foods and pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) may ease symptoms. Use caution when giving aspirin to children or teenagers. Though aspirin is approved for use in children older than age 2, children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin has been linked to Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
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- Sore throat? Know when to call the doctor. American Osteopathic Association. http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/sore-throat.aspx. Accessed Sept. 20, 2012.
- Pichichero ME. PANDAS: Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with group A streptococci. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and management of group A streptococcal pharyngitis: 2012 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.Infectious Disease Society of America. Arlington, Va. http://www.idsociety.org/uploadedFiles/IDSA/Guidelines-Patient_Care/PDF_Library/2012%20Strep%20Guideline.pdf. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Pichichero ME. Treatment and prevention of streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 2, 2012.
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