Does your child need a rapid pediatric strep test, same-day Covid PCR test, or both? If your child doesn't feel like their normal energetic self, their symptoms could come from strep, Covid, or something else entirely. If you're not sure which test they need, what their symptoms mean, or what to do next, take a look at what you need to know about diagnosis and treatment options.

What Are the Symptoms To Watch Out For?

The answer to this question depends on which illness you think your child has. The common symptoms of strep and Covid overlap. These could include a sore throat, fever, headache, nausea, and fatigue. Younger children may act irritable or have new, sudden behavior changes or avoid eating or speaking (if they have a severe sore throat). 

Covid may also cause a runny, stuffy nose, body aches, chills, a cough, trouble breathing, or a change in smell/taste. These are not typical strep throat symptoms. 

Along with strep and Covid, illnesses such as the flu, the cold, and RSV can cause similar symptoms. If your child has the flu or a cold they may cough, sneeze, have a sore throat,  have nasal congestion, or have a fever. The flu can also cause body aches, chills, and a headache. A cold is less likely to include these symptoms. RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) infections can cause a cough, difficulty breathing, runny nose, and a fever.

What Are the Differences Between These Illnesses?

Symptoms aren't the only differences between strep throat, Covid, the flu, a cold, and RSV. The cause, the diagnostic process, and the treatment also differ. Group A Streptococcus bacteria cause strep throat. But a virus is the culprit behind the flu, colds, and RSV. Even though these three illnesses are all viral diseases, the same virus does not cause Covid, the flu, colds, or RSV. This makes it important to test your child for Covid, the flu, or RSV if you think they may have one of these viruses. 

What Is A Rapid Pediatric Strep Exam?

If your child has a sore throat, fever, and a headache, it could be strep. Strep is a common cause of sore throats in children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), three in 10 children with a sore throat do have this bacterial infection. 

Again, the only way to know if your child has this common bacterial infection is a test. This requires a pediatrician's office or clinic visit. The doctor will take a health history, ask you to list your child's symptoms, and examine your child. They will also use a rapid pediatric strep test to diagnose this illness. If your child has strep, the doctor can prescribe antibiotics.

What Is Same-Day Covid PCR Testing?

If your child doesn't have strep but does have Covid symptoms, the doctor may swab their nose. A PCR test detects the genetic material of the Covid virus. It is typically more sensitive than a rapid home test. 

For more information on same-day Covid PCR tests and rapid pediatric strep exams, contact a professional near you.