My 10-month-old son has had strep throat twice. Is this normal or should I be concerned?
Answers from Jay L. Hoecker, M.D.
Recurrent strep throat isn't likely a sign of an underlying problem with a child's immune system. Children who develop strep throat repeatedly may have contact with a carrier of strep, likely at home or in a child care setting — or may be strep carriers themselves. A strep carrier is someone who still has the strep-causing bacteria, but who has been treated and no longer has symptoms.
Strep throat is an infection caused by a bacterium known as group A streptococcus. Strep throat can occur at any age, even during infancy. However, strep throat is most common in school-age children and young adults.
For the few infants who develop strep throat, signs and symptoms may include:
- Refusal to breast-feed or drink from a bottle
- Swollen glands in the neck
- Red throat or tonsils
- Occasionally, a fine, red rash on the torso, arms and legs
Strep throat is diagnosed with a throat culture, in which the doctor swabs the child's throat and tests the sample for the presence of strep bacteria. Treatment for strep throat is typically a course of antibiotics. Recurrent strep throat is often treated with a different antibiotic from the one prescribed originally. In some cases, surgery to remove the tonsils (tonsillectomy) may be the most appropriate treatment.
April 08, 2016
- Pichichero ME. Treatment and prevention of streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Feb. 15, 2016.
- The difference between a sore throat, strep and tonsillitis. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/The-Difference-Between-a-Sore-Throat-Strep-and-Tonsillitis.aspx. Accessed Feb. 15, 2016.
- Lalwani AK. Management of adenotonsillar disease. In: Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Otolaryngology--Head & Neck Surgery. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Feb. 15, 2016.
- Streptococcal infections. Merck Manual Professional Version. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/infectious-diseases/gram-positive-cocci/streptococcal-infections. Accessed Feb. 15, 2016.