Pink eye strep throat

Strep Throat may be Causing Your Pink Eye

Strep throat is typically a common cause for a sore throat in children and occasionally in adults. It often presents a very scratchy, painful sore throat caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria. Unfortunately, when adults are afflicted with a bacterial strep infection, it is also possible to get a case of bacterial conjunctivitis, otherwise known as pink eye.

Pink eye results in redness or swelling of the eye or eyelids, eye discharge, irritated eyes, and more. This particular condition can be caused by bacteria, viruses, allergens or irritants. If you are suffering from both strep throat and bacterial conjunctivitis, they can easily be treated with the use of antibiotics. In some cases, however, experiencing strep throat with symptoms of pink eye could indicate the presence of a virus. If the cause is found to be viral, it most commonly is caused by an adenovirus and, while not necessarily dangerous, is considered highly contagious.

In either case, experiencing symptoms of both strep throat and pink eye warrant a trip to the doctor’s office. Without a correct diagnosis, treatments may be ineffective, prolonging the illness or allowing it to progress. At Midwest Express Clinic, we are fully prepared to handle either situation – or both! We will help you find relief for your pink eye and can perform a rapid strep test to determine if your sore throat is caused by strep.

Don’t wait around to feel better. Visit one of our walk-in clinic locations today!

Symptoms of Strep Throat and How It’s Diagnosed

But if you also have a runny nose, a cough, vocal hoarseness, or pink eye (conjunctivitis), Dr. Rajapakse says, then a virus is more likely to be the cause of your infection.

Rajapakse estimates that 90 percent of sore throats are caused by a virus, so unless you’re experiencing the telltale signs of strep throat, it’s probably not the cause of your symptoms.

Be sure to see a doctor if you or your child experience any of the following:

  • Sore throat along with swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • Sore throat lasting more than 48 hours
  • Fever above 101 degrees F or lasting more than 48 hours
  • Sore throat along with a rash on the neck or body
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing (3)

What Does Strep Throat Look Like?

Some people believe that you can identify strep throat by its appearance, but this is a widespread misconception, says Rajapakse.

“No doctor or parent can tell whether a child has strep just by looking at the throat,” she emphasizes. Even when a doctor strongly suspects that an infection is strep throat, a throat swab is necessary to confirm the diagnosis.

When strep throat is present, it typically gives a very red appearance to the throat and tonsils. There is often also a white coating on some of or all the reddened areas.

“Some people take the white coating to mean that it’s caused by strep for sure,” Rajapakse says. “But we know that with certain viruses, which are a much more common cause of sore throat in kids, you get this white coating as well.”

The red area in an infected person’s throat may extend to the roof of the mouth, sometimes appearing to “trail off” as red dots in that area.

There may also be visible areas of pus — usually bumpy-looking white or yellow secretions — on the tonsils or back of the throat.

How Do Doctors Diagnose Strep Throat?

To diagnose or rule out strep throat, your doctor will first ask about your history of symptoms and perform a physical examination.

This examination will involve looking at the back of the throat, during which your doctor may take a throat swab right away.

It will also include taking your or your child’s temperature and feeling the neck for enlarged or tender lymph nodes. Your doctor will probably also check the neck and body for signs of a rash.

If your doctor suspects strep throat based on this examination, a throat swab will be tested for the presence of strep bacteria. There are two tests available: a rapid test and a lab culture test. (5)

A rapid strep test can give results within minutes, Rajapakse says, and is the only test needed if someone tests positive for strep throat.

But if rapid test results come back negative for strep, that doesn’t mean for sure that you don’t have it. “A small percentage of people who have a negative rapid test will have a positive culture,” Rajapakse notes — and the lab test is considered definitive.

If your rapid test results are negative, your doctor will probably order a lab culture test. It can take several days to obtain the results from this test.

Your doctor will most likely start you on a course of antibiotics as soon as you test positive for strep. (5)

If your rapid test results are negative but your doctor strongly suspects that this is erroneous, it’s possible that you’ll be told to start on antibiotics right away, before the lab culture results are in.

If strep throat recurs in you or your child, you might consider investing in a Rapid Response strep test kit. This over-the-counter test involves a throat swab that gets placed into a test tube filled with a mixture of reagents. Once the solution has been mixed, you insert a test strip for five seconds; it can detect strep A in five minutes. According to the Food and Drug Administration, this test has a 97 percent accuracy rate. (6)

Pink Eye and Strep Throat are Making the Rounds

Pink eye is common this time of year and it’s going around this week.

Dr. Robert Beer in West Omaha said it’s caused by either allergies or infections. If both eyes are red and the discharge is thin and clear, it’s likely due to allergies. But if there is redness and thick, cloudy discharge in just one eye it’s more likely to be an infection – especially if cold symptoms and fever are present.

For allergy-triggered pink eye, Dr. Beer recommends over-the-counter eye drops like Visine A-C and oral antihistamines such as Claritin or Benadryl. But if symptoms persist you should see your doctor.

If the pink eye is caused by infections, it is contagious. Try not to rub the eyes, avoid close contact with others and wash your hands often.

Pink eye sufferers are usually considered no longer contagious 24 hours after starting prescribed drops.

In Bellevue, Dr. Steven Sindelar is reporting cases of strep throat. He’s seeing children with headaches, sore throats and fevers.

It’s typically not associated with a cough or runny nose. Strep is common in children ages five to 15.

To determine if your child has it, their physician can give them a rapid strep test in which a cotton swab is used to wipe the back of their throat.

Strep is treated with antibiotics.

For minor sore throats and colds, treat symptoms using over-the-counter pain relievers and make sure your child is drinking plenty of fluids.

Strep Test: Rapid

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What It Is

A rapid strep test involves a quick throat swab. Within minutes, the test can show the presence of group A streptococcus bacteria, which can cause strep throat and other infections (including scarlet fever, abscesses, and pneumonia).

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the back of the throat and the tonsils, which become irritated and swollen, causing a sore throat that’s especially painful when swallowing. Your child may get white or yellow spots, or a coating on the throat and tonsils, and the lymph nodes in the neck may swell and become tender to touch.

Strep throat is most common among 5- to 10-year-olds. Up to 20% of schoolchildren may be carrying the bacteria but show no symptoms, though they can still spread the infection. In kids, strep throat may cause body aches, headaches, stomachaches, nausea, vomiting, or listlessness. The infection usually doesn’t include other cold symptoms (such as sneezing, coughing, or a runny or stuffy nose).

Most sore throats in kids are caused by viral infections, which clear up on their own without antibiotic treatment. While strep throat sometimes can go away within a few days without treatment, doctors prescribe antibiotics to prevent related complications that can be serious, such as rheumatic fever.

Why It’s Done

The rapid strep test is done to help quickly see whether a child’s sore throat is caused by a strep infection vs. other germs (usually viruses) that don’t require antibiotic treatment.

A doctor may do a rapid strep test done if a child:

  • has symptoms of a strep throat infection and doesn’t have symptoms typical of a virus infection
  • has a sore throat and has been exposed to someone known to have a strep throat, or if there are many strep throat cases in the community

Sometimes, doctors do a throat culture instead of a rapid strep test. A throat culture is more accurate than a rapid strep test, but the results take longer (2-3 days) to come back.


Encourage your child to stay still during the procedure so the health professional can collect enough secretions for an accurate test. Be sure to tell your doctor if your child has taken antibiotics recently, and don’t have your child use mouthwash before the test as it may affect test results.

The Procedure

A health professional will ask your child to tilt his or her head back and open his or her mouth as wide as possible. Your child’s tongue will then be pressed down with a flat stick (tongue depressor) to clearly examine the mouth and throat. A clean, soft cotton swab will be lightly brushed over the back of the throat, around the tonsils, and over any red or sore areas to collect a sample.

Sometimes, two swabs will be used so the second swab can be sent for a throat culture if the rapid strep test results are negative. Swabbing will last only a few seconds. The secretions on the swab are then analyzed in the office or a laboratory.

You might want to hold a young child on your lap during the procedure to prevent him or her from moving around, which could make it difficult for the health professional to get a good sample.

What to Expect

Your child may feel like gagging when the swab touches the back of the throat. If your child’s throat is sore, the swabbing may cause slight pain temporarily.

Getting the Results

Test results are usually available in about 15 minutes. If the rapid strep test indicates a strep infection, the doctor usually will prescribe antibiotics. Keep in mind, though, that up to a third of negative rapid strep test results are false (meaning someone actually has a strep throat infection even though the rapid strep results were negative). A throat culture may then be done to ensure accuracy.


Throat swabs can be uncomfortable, but no risks are associated with a rapid strep test.

Helping Your Child

Explaining the test in terms your child can understand might help ease any fear. During the test, encourage your child to relax and stay still so the health professional can easily swab the throat and tonsils.

If You Have Questions

If you have questions about the rapid strep test, speak with your doctor.

Ask the experts

I have a strep throat and I have been taking medication for five days now. I have been coughing a lot, too. I was wondering how long the strep bacteria will survive?

Doctor’s response

We have no doubt that you had a sore throat. We have no doubt that you are still coughing. But if you have been taking an antibiotic for a strep throat, it may not be that you have (or have ever had) a strep throat, a true strep throat, one that due to a strep bacteria.

A true strep throat that is treated with an appropriate antibiotic (one to which it is sensitive) should, as a rule, be over and done with within a day (24 hours).

The fact that your sore throat did not clear up promptly goes very much against it being a strep. And the fact that you are still coughing 5 days later goes even more strongly against it being a strep.

Sore throats can be due to many causes including, very prominently, a hoard of viruses. A viral sore throat will not respond to an antibiotic and can cause inflammation of the airways (bronchitis). Therefore, a virus that causes a sore throat is quite capable of causing a cough.

Unless there is clear-cut, definite, convincing laboratory proof of a strep, our vote goes to a virus as the best bet.

If your symptoms persist, you should contact your doctor. Hope you feel better.


Growing Up Columns

Viruses Most Common Cause of Pinkeye

By Dr. Jamie Lien

Pinkeye, or conjunctivitis, is redness and swelling of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear lining inside the eyelid and on the surface of the eyeball. Irritation or infection can cause this lining to become red and swollen. Pinkeye is a very common problem in children and adults and can have many different causes, including infections caused by viruses or bacteria, allergies and exposure to irritants.

Viruses are the most common cause of infectious pinkeye. Viral pinkeye is most common in the late fall and early spring. Symptoms include redness in the white of the eye, eyelid swelling, itchy eyes, tearing and watery or slightly thick whitish drainage. Both eyes are usually affected. Viruses that cause pinkeye usually cause other symptoms as well, including sore throat and runny nose and are not usually treatable with medication. Viral pinkeye symptoms usually last between five and seven days, but can last up to three weeks.

Symptoms of bacterial pinkeye can be slightly worse than those of viral pinkeye, including moderate to large amounts of gray or yellow eye discharge which cause the eyelashes to stick together, eye pain, sensitivity to light, and swelling of the lymph nodes in front of the ears. Sometimes the bacteria that cause pinkeye can also cause an ear infection. Bacterial pinkeye symptoms usually last between seven and 10 days without antibiotic treatment and two to four days with antibiotic treatment. Prescription antibiotic eyedrops usually kill the bacteria that cause pinkeye.

The eye discharge in both viral and bacterial pinkeye is usually most pronounced in the morning, when the child first wakes up. Because the eyes have been closed all night, the discharge builds up during sleep, and can even crust the eye shut. The discharge can be removed by gently dabbing the area with a damp washcloth. Eyelid swelling may also be more prominent in the morning, and should improve throughout the day.

Children may return to day care or school when symptoms begin to improve, usually in three to five days for viral pinkeye, and 24 hours after starting antibiotics for bacterial pinkeye if symptoms have improved.

Infectious pinkeye is highly contagious, and is spread through contact with the eye drainage, which contains the virus or bacteria that caused the pinkeye. If you touch an infected eye, and then touch your other eye or an object while you have drainage on your hand, the virus or bacteria can be spread. The main cause of the spread of pinkeye is poor hand washing. Sharing objects such as towels, washcloths, contact lens equipment, eye makeup or eye medicine with a person who has pinkeye can also spread the infection.

Do not use antibiotic eyedrops prescribed for someone else or from a previous infection. These medications may have been contaminated or may be inappropriate for your current infection.

If you feel that your child might have bacterial pinkeye, you should see your pediatrician. He or she can prescribe antibiotic treatment as well as check for other conditions such as ear infections or more serious eye infections.

Allergic conjunctivitis affects both eyes and is caused by the body’s response to an allergy-inducing substance such as pollen or pet dander. Symptoms include itching, tearing and redness and swelling of the eyes. Your child may also have sneezing and watery nasal discharge. Most allergic conjunctivitis can be controlled with allergy eyedrops.

Dr. Jamie Lien is a pediatrician in the Emergency Department at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego, and an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at UC San Diego. She can be reached at [email protected]


You’ve probably had that scratchy, itchy feeling. The one that starts in the back of your throat and suddenly turns into a painful burning sensation. Some people say it’s like trying to swallow broken glass. Now that’s a pretty vivid description of the common sore throat and if you have ever had one that bad then you’re not likely to forget it. Usually, a simple sore throat will come along with some other symptoms, like a cough or runny nose and it will likely go away on its own in a few days. But what does it mean if it lingers? That can be a sign of the dreaded strep throat.

Sore Throat or Strep Throat?

The common sore throat is usually caused by irritation (like post-nasal drip) or a virus, so antibiotics aren’t going to do any good. Strep throat is caused by bacteria (group A streptococcus ), and the only way to find relief is to make an appointment to see your doctor or with a quick visit to your local American Family Care. But for some patients, usually children and teens, strep never goes away or it keeps coming back. That’s known as “recurring strep throat.”

Recurring Strep Throat

If you are diagnosed with strep throat more than seven times in a single year, then it’s likely your doctor will consider a tonsillectomy. But even after the surgery, some people still develop strep. Along with being painful, this can mean many days of missed school or work. So why does recurring strep throat happen?

  1. Antibiotic Resistance – Some forms of strep throat are resistant to the antibiotic that has been prescribed. Penicillin and cephalexin are the go-to strep throat antibiotics in the case of strep. If these don’t knock the bacteria out, your doctor will go a different route. Remember to take ALL of your prescribed strep throat antibiotics! Some patients will stop taking their medication after they start feeling better. This is a huge mistake. Don’t give the bacteria a chance to develop a resistance to your medication. Knock out recurring strep throat by completing your antibiotics cycle.
  2. Weak Immune System – The strep bacteria is a formidable opponent. If you are in overall poor health or have a weakened immune system because of an underlying condition, then you are at risk of strep recurrence.
  3. Hidden Carrier – They walk among us! There are many people who are actually carriers of the strep bacteria, even though they show no signs of having strep throat. It could be that someone you come into close contact with every day is a carrier.
  4. Dental Disinfecting – After a strep diagnosis (or any contagious illness!) you should toss out your toothbrush for a new one. But that alone might not be good enough. Make sure and disinfect your toothbrush holder as well or you may just pick the bacteria up again on your new toothbrush.

As the CDC points out, no one can diagnose strep throat just by looking at your throat. Instead, healthcare professionals use two tests to see if the strep bacteria are at the root of the problem. Your local American Family Care can perform both the “rapid strep test” and a throat culture. As the name indicates, the “rapid strep test” is a quick swab of the back of your throat that gives results in minutes. That means treatment with antibiotics for strep throat can begin quickly. A throat culture may be considered if a rapid test comes back negative, but your doctor still suspects strep throat.

The Right Care. Right Now. AFC Urgent Care.

Strep throat is painful. The good news is that most patients begin to see improvement shortly after antibiotic treatment begins. American Family Care is committed to providing you with the right care, right now! A convenient visit, with thorough treatment and we’ll help you feel better in no time.

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