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Strep Throat

My little girl has strep throat. You might never have guessed it, though, to look at her. She’s energetic, happy, has an appetite… in short, she doesn’t look sick. Except that her throat hurts on and off because her tonsils are massive.

swollen tonsils
swollen tonsils

She was sent home from school about 10 days ago with a fever. I put her to bed, pumped her with fluids and natural remedies (echinicea, gelsenium in case it was the flu, aconite for viral infections), and watched her carefully for the telltale strep rash, yellow bumps on the back of her tongue, or pustules on her tonsils. Her fever broke the next day, so I figured it must have been a passing viral infection.

Guess not.

Her throat was still bothering her a week or so later, so I brought her into the pediatrician’s office. Sure enough, the strep bacteria showed up immediately on the in-office culture. Dang.

Did you know that they have strep tests that return results in 3 minutes now? When I was a kid, my sister and I were strep “carriers” and had it 5-8 times/year. Since my father was a doctor, he would bring the culture swabs home from the hospital and swab our tonsils himself, then drop the thing off directly at the lab — bypassing the pediatrician altogether. The worst part was that he wasn’t a good shot and swabbing would take multiple attempts. It sucks gagging when your throat already hurts, let me tell you.

The thing with strep is that if you leave it alone your body might fight if off by itself, or it might become a chronic infection, or it might migrate to your heart in the form of rheumatic heart fever, scarlet fever, or kidney problems. Some of these can leave you with a permanently weakened heart.

I remember when I was in 4th grade and one of the other student’s mothers was our playground aide. She died suddenly that year, at age 36, because of a weakened heart from a childhood bout with strep that turned into rheumatic heart fever. She left two young sons. Very sad.

So my baby girl is on heavy duty antibiotics. She loves the taste, but they are ripping her insides up and giving her diarreah, poor child. As soon as we finish the course I’ll pump her full of probiotics to help repair the carnage that’s going on.

My infectious disease specialist cousin-in-law suggests that we treat the whole family with antibiotics. The thought is so distasteful to me that I’m going to wait and see if anyone else turns up with any symptoms first. I’ve disinfected the bathrooms, faucets, lightswitches, and doorknobs, and washed all the linens in hot water. Maybe we can avoid this fate. I suspect that being on so many antibiotics during my lifetime helped me end up with multiple sclerosis. That’s one of my theories, anyway.

The incubation period for strep is about 3 days, and sickies are most contagious when the symptoms are most acute, which was about two weeks ago now, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that we came through it ok.

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