Friday, February 10, 2012

Recurrent Strep Throat

Rapid Strep testing
Recurrent strep throat is a problem for many families.  Some kids seem to catch strep the minute it enters their classroom or neighborhood.  Their parents recognize the symptoms and bring the child in immediately for diagnosis and treatment so they can get the child back to school in 24 hours (and parents can get back to work).

The problem with this rapid treatment approach is it doesn't allow the child's immune system to rev up against Strep. The antibiotic kills it off, and doesn't leave "memory" of the Strep bacteria. If given a few days, the body's immune system builds fighter cells to kill off the Strep bacteria.  Some of these cells hang around as "memory" cells so that with the next exposure, they round up the troops and kill off the Strep before it becomes a big infection.

It's a matter of short term versus long term solutions.  The short term solution is to quickly treat so everyone can get back to their routine lives, but leaves opportunity for recurrence. The long term solution is to treat symptoms to maintain hydration and comfort for a couple of days and then to treat with antibiotic. This requires more time at home and delays return to school.  Which option is better for your child depends on your current needs and long term goals.

Parents chime in: Knowing the short term/long term issues with rapid treatment of Strep throat, will you take your kid to their doctor or walk in clinic at the first sign of sore throat or wait?