What Parents Should Know about Rapid Strep Tests

Screen Shot 2015-12-14 at 10.56.01 AMWe understand how stressful it can be to have a sick child and we are committed to helping families find the best treatment options available. Our pediatric nurses and doctors are seeing increasing numbers of families utilizing over-the-counter rapid strep tests in an effort to ease their worries and avoid an urgent care visit for their child suffering from a sore throat. While we understand the justification for using these tests, we want to make sure you are as informed as possible when choosing options for caring for your child. Here is some must-have information on rapid strep tests from our staff:

Rapid Strep Testing

Rapid strep tests can cause a false-negative result even when strep is actually the cause of the infection for several reasons:

  • Incorrect swab collection most commonly by accidentally extracting saliva from the tongue on the swab or from not swabbing the back of the throat correctly
  • Too few bacteria or strep protein to trigger the test to read positive

Rapids strep tests can also cause a false-positive result when something else is causing the sore throat

  • The test is triggered positive by other bacteria or protein on the swab

We understand why many families use these home tests.  Unfortunately, because of these risks, the Youth Clinic will request that you come in for a repeat test before we will treat your child. At The Youth Clinic we will use our medical expertise to evaluate if your child needs to be tested for Strep. If they do need to be tested we will use a PCR test that is very sensitive and accurate for detecting the Strep bacteria. Strep can be a dangerous infection with many complications, so if you think your child has strep, bring them in for complete testing rather than relying on a home test with varying results.

If you are worried that your child might have Strep you can call to schedule an office visit at all of our offices Monday through Friday 8am to 5 pm. If you need assistance outside of these hours, our partner facility Pediatric Urgent Care of Northern Colorado is equipped with onsite testing to treat your family. They are open 365 days a year including holidays for your convenience.