Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection that can lead to an inflamed and painful throat. The infection can also make your throat feel scratchy and sore. Strep throat is caused by group A streptococcus or the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria.
Strep throat occurs commonly in children; however, people of all ages can get this infection. Strep throat occurs at any time of the year, but you can get it more frequently during fall and spring. This isn’t very dangerous, but if left untreated, it can lead to complications. This can lead to inflammation of the kidney or rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can cause painful joints, rash, or damage to the heart valves.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
This infection can have various symptoms, leading from mild to severe. You may also have a lot of these symptoms but not strep throat. It is therefore essential to see your doctor for swift testing and treatment.
The common symptoms of strep throat are:
- Sudden fever, especially 101 degrees F or higher.
- A throat pain that comes on quickly.
- Body ache
- Troublesome swallowing
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes
- Tiny red spots at the back of the mouth roof
- Swollen tonsils with white patches or pus
You should call your doctor if you observe symptoms like a sore throat with swollen lymph glands, sore throat with rash, a sore throat that lasts for more than 2 days, problems with breathing or swallowing, or fever. You also need to inform your doctor if you have been diagnosed with strep and have been taking antibiotics for more than 48 hours without improvement.
If you have scheduled a visit with a doctor, the doctor will first check your throat for signs of inflammation. They may also check for swollen lymph nodes and other symptoms. If suspected, he may do a rapid strep test at the clinic to determine the type of infection.
Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial infection. These bacteria can spread through airborne droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. It can also spread through shared drinks or food. You can get infected by touching doorknobs, faucets, or any surface that has been contaminated by an infected person and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
The spread of infection and inflammatory reactions
If you are infected with these bacteria, the infection can spread to the tonsils, sinuses, blood, skin, and middle ear.
In severe cases, strep can lead to many inflammatory illnesses.
- Scarlett fever: This is a streptococcal infection with a rash as a prominent symptom.
- Inflammation of the kidney, or post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
- Poststreptococcal reactive arthritis leading to inflammation of the joints.
- Rheumatic fever, inflammation that can affect the joints, heart, skin, and nervous system.
It has also been found that there is a possibility of a relationship between strep throat and the rare pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder PANDAS. This is a term that is used to describe children with certain neuropsychiatric conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder or tic disorder, which have worsened due to the strep infection.
There is no vaccine that prevents this infection. To prevent strep throat, a few essential steps can be taken.
Cleaning Hands: Washing your hands thoroughly is one of the best ways to prevent various infections. If you do not have access to water and soap, a good hand sanitizer is an option.
Do not share personal items: You should avoid sharing drinks and food with someone who is infected. Do not share glasses and utensils. If someone in your home is infected, avoid sharing towels, pillowcases, or sheets. Wash dishes and laundry in hot and soapy water.
Cover your mouth: Make sure to sneeze or cough in a tissue or in the crook of your elbow. Wash your hands frequently.
Treatment and Home Remedies
Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics as strep throat is a bacterial infection. In order to kill the infection completely, it is essential that you finish your antibiotic treatment course. Antibiotics like penicillin or amoxicillin are commonly prescribed to treat strep throat. If you are allergic to these, your doctor may prescribe azithromycin instead.
Along with your antibiotics, you can include certain home remedies to relieve the symptoms of strep throat. You can gargle with salt and water, drink warm liquids like tea, use a cool-mist humidifier, have a throat lozenge, or consume honey.
Strep throat or sore throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection, while a sore throat is caused by viruses. Sore throats can be caused by illnesses other than strep throat. Illnesses like the common cold, postnasal drip, acid reflux, or sinus infections can also cause sore throats.
A common cold will usually have symptoms like a runny nose, coughing, and hoarseness. If you have a sore throat that develops gradually and disappears in a few days, it is usually due to a cold. Pain due to strep throat can occur suddenly and last for days.
If you doubt that you have strep throat, you should consult your doctor for a quick diagnosis and treatment.