The 5 Most Common Sicknesses (and how to prevent them)

3) Strep Throat

Most sore throats are associated with colds and other respiratory symptoms, but about one-fifth are caused by bacteria called streptococci. “During the sick season of winter, 20 percent of sore throats are strep,” says Ryder. “The other 80 percent are caused by viruses.”

Symptoms include throat pain/ difficulty swallowing; red, swollen tonsils, sometimes lined with streaks or patches of pus; tender lymph nodes in the neck; fever; headache; rash; and, in toddlers, stomachache and possibly vomiting.

The good news about strep throat? Unlike other causes of a sore throat, it’s treatable! Your pediatrician will test for strep to make sure the sore throat isn’t caused by a virus or tonsillitis. For a positive result, he’ll prescribe antibiotics. Untreated, strep bacteria can lead to rheumatic fever, which can cause inflamed joints and may even result in damage to the heart. Fortunately, strep bacteria respond quickly to antibiotics.