Strep throat doesn't just run in our house; it gallops. It enters with force, knocks us to our knees and just when we think we've kicked it, it appears again for an encore. They say that fall and winter are the peak seasons for strep, but in our house, strep knows no season. It is timeless, enduring and a royal pain in the... throat.
Currently, all five of our children have been struck down by strep. There are 10 little bottles of amoxicillin (two per kid) in our fridge and five sad, sore-throated kids on our couch. My day is a revolving door of administering antibiotics, Tylenol and ice pops while juggling a valiant attempt to work from home. I feel like Florence Nightingale with a laptop -- and a mission: To conquer strep for once and for all. Here's my plan:
- Know the signs. The most obvious is a child whimpering that his throat hurts. If that whimper is accompanied by a high fever and breath so bad it could wilt a flower, run, don't walk, straight to the doctor's office. And keep an eye out for less obvious signs like a headache, stomach ache or vomiting.
- When in doubt, don't wait it out. Strep is a sneaky littler bugger that can be different for each kid and each time it strikes. We tend to tough things out in our house; with five kids, we can't be running to the pediatrician for every little sniffle and boo boo. But we've learned the hard way not to wait with strep. That's how we ended up with those five whimpering kids on the couch!
- Replace toothbrushes. After 24 hours on antibiotics, it's time to replace your toothbrushes. All of them. Especially if your kids are like our kids and their toothbrushes end up on the sink, under the bed on the bathroom floor or in each other's mouths. While you're at it, replace the toothpaste, too. Especially if your kids are like our kids and have been known to stick their tongue down the tube. Gross, but true! A minimal investment in the oral care aisle will give that nasty strep one less place to reside in your home... or, if your house is like our house right now, infirmary!
- Wash! Wash the sheets, wash the towels and while you're at it, remind the kids to wash their hands. Warm, soapy water is the enemy of strep. And so are you!
- Drink plenty of liquids. And I'm not just talking about ginger ale and apple juice for the kids. You need to take care of yourself too. A steaming cup of coffee in the morning will prepare you for the battle of the strep and nurturing of the kids; a nice glass of wine at night will take the edge off after you tuck them in, confident in the knowledge that you did your Florence Nightingale best and tomorrow will surely be a better day.