Letter: Is it strep? How to decide when test is needed

November 18, 2013 

A recent article about using a strep scorecard to help decide if you need to see a doctor for antibiotics to treat a bacterial throat infection neglected to mention what the list of symptoms might look like.

As a physician, when trying to decide whether a strep test is needed or not, symptoms that would make me not test, in other words the symptoms likely are because of a more common viral infection, are:

w Runny nose, may be first clear and later thicker and colored lasting up to 2 weeks.

w Low-grade fever, may be highest on first two days, then usually decreases.

w Cough that may last two weeks.

w Sore throat that hurts with cough and usually occurs at the onset and lasts about five days.

If many of these symptoms are present, it's best to treat at home with lots of fluids, rest, suctioning of baby nose with rubber bulb or gentle nose blowing for older child, both with saline drops, acetaminophen for aches or initial fever and moist air.

Strep throat is also less likely under 5 or over 15 years of age unless exposed. Antibiotics should not be given or taken without a positive rapid strep test or culture.

Dr. NANCY BAXTER, West Richland

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