Strep throat is an infection of the throat and tonsils. Bacteria called group A streptococcus, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes. cause it. They live in the nose and throat. You can get the infection from someone who is sick with strep A bacteria or is a carrier of it.
Sore throat is the general term for any condition where the throat feels scratchy, tender, and possibly painful. Strep throat, however, is a sore throat caused by a specific strain of bacteria.
Strep throat Symptoms
he severity of strep throat can vary from person to person. Some people experience mild symptoms, like a sore throat. Other people have more severe symptoms, including fever and difficulty swallowing.
The common symptoms of strep throat include:
- A sudden fever, especially if it’s 101˚F (38˚C) or higher
- A sore, red throat with white patches
- A headache
- A loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Trouble swallowing
These symptoms typically develop within five days of exposure to the strep bacteria. Find out more about having strep throat without a fever.
Strep throat Causes
Strep throat is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes or group A Streptococcus (also known as group A strep, or GAS).
You can become infected with strep throat if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after being exposed to these bacteria.
Along with coughing and sneezing, strep throat can be spread when you share food or a drink with someone who’s infected.
You can also get strep throat by coming into contact with an object contaminated with group A strep bacteria, such as a doorknob or faucet, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Strep throat Complications
Strep throat is easy to treat; however, if it is left, there is a chance it may lead to complications, these can include:
- Sinusitis – infection of the sinuses.
- The infection may travel to the ear, skin, or blood.
- Mastoiditis – an infection of the mastoid, a part of the skull behind the jaw.
- Rheumatic fever – an inflammatory disease.
- Peritonsillar abscess – a pus-filled pocket near the tonsils.
- Scarlet fever – caused by bacterial toxins; produces a scarlet rash.
- Guttate psoriasis – a type of psoriasis more common in children.
- Poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis – inflammation of the kidneys.
Strep throat Diagnosis
See your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- A sore throat that lasts longer than two days
- A sore throat with white patches
- Dark, red splotches or spots on the tonsils or the top of the mouth
- A sore throat with a fine, sandpaper-like pink rash on the skin
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
Your doctor will examine your throat and check for signs of inflammation. They may also check your neck for swollen lymph nodes and ask about other symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have strep throat, they may do a rapid strep test in the office.
This test determines whether your sore throat is caused by a strep infection or another type of bacteria or germ. Your doctor swabs the back of your throat with a long cotton swab, collecting a sample. The sample is then sent to a lab to look for signs of bacteria.
The results are available in about 5 minutes. If your rapid strep test is negative but your doctor thinks you have strep throat, your sample may be sent to an outside lab for additional testing. These results are available within a few days.
Strep throat Treatment
Because strep throat is a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. These medications inhibit the spread of bacteria and infections. Several types of antibiotics are available.
It’s important that you finish your antibiotic treatment course to kill the infection completely. Some people stop taking their medication when symptoms improve, which can trigger a relapse. If this happens, the symptoms can return.
Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common medications given for a strep infection. If you’re allergic to penicillin or amoxicillin, your doctor may prescribe the antibiotic azithromycin.
Strep throat Home remedies
In addition to antibiotics, there are at-home treatments that can help relieve the symptoms of strep throat. These remedies include:
- Drinking warm liquids, such as lemon water and tea
- Drinking cold liquids to help numb the throat
- Turning on a cool-mist humidifier
- Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Sucking on throat lozenges
- Adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of water and gargling the mixture
Natural remedies such as honey and apple cider vinegar may also help.
Strep throat Prevention
Many doctors say there is not much we can do to prevent sore throats that are caused by bacterial or viral infections. The following tips may help reduce the frequency of sore throats, and probably help prevent complications:
- Nutrition – a well-balanced diet, rich in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, good quality fats (olive oil, avocado, etc.) and lean proteins will boost the immune system.
- Exercise – Regular exercise helps the immune system.
- Get plenty of sleep – without enough sleep, the immune system will eventually become weaker.
- Don’t smoke – people who smoke have significantly more bouts of sore throat compared to people who don’t; they are also more susceptible to throat complications.
- Keep hands clean – regular handwashing with soap and water is an effective way of preventing most infections.
- Cover the mouth when coughing – this protects other people. Coughing into the inside of the elbow, rather than into the hands, also makes it less likely that surfaces will become contaminated when touched.
- Isolate personal items – drinking glasses and eating utensils, for example, should not be shared if they have been used by somebody who has a sore throat.
Strep throat in Adults
Strep throat is more common in children than in adults. Parents of school-aged children are more likely to become infected.
Adults who are frequently around children may also be more susceptible to strep throat.
Strep throat in Children
Although children are more likely than adults to have strep throat, it is very rare in toddlers under the age of 3 years. Strep throat most commonly occurs in children between the ages of 5 and 15. Since it’s so contagious, strep throat can easily spread where children congregate, such as in daycare centers and schools.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does the throat consist of?
The throat is a complex part of the anatomy which includes the tonsils, adenoids, larynx, pharynx, uvula, epiglottis and tongue. These structures are located within different areas of the throat, e.g. the mouth and all of them play an important role.
What does the throat do?
The throat performs several functions, all of which are vital to our everyday existence. These include enabling speech; preventing any blockages within the airways; acting as a conduit for mucus and other secretions and enabling us to chew and swallow food for digestion.
Can strep throat go away on its own?
If the test comes back positive for the bacteria, then the doctor will usually prescribe an antibiotic. But strep throat is a self-limited disease that will go away on its own, says Shulman. Antibiotics are not prescribed to treat strep itself, but to prevent serious complications, such as rheumatic fever.
How long does strep throat last?
Most antibiotic treatments for strep throat last about 10 days. Kids usually feel better a day or two after they start them. Once they’ve been on these drugs for about 24 hours, they’re no longer contagious and can go back to school.
How do you know if you have strep throat or just a sore throat?
Signs and symptoms of strep throat are very similar to an ordinary sore throat, but in general strep throat has White patches on the tonsils or back of the throat. Just a sore throat without cough/cold symptoms like a runny nose or congestion.
We endeavor to keep our content True, Accurate, Correct, Original and Up to Date.
If you believe that any information in this article is Incorrect, Incomplete, Plagiarised, violates your Copyright right or you want to propose an update, please send us an email to email@example.com indicating the proposed changes and the content URL. Provide as much information as you can and we promise to take corrective measures to the best of our abilities.
All content in this site is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor, psychiatrist or any other health care professional. We are not responsible or liable for any diagnosis, decision or self-assessment made by a user based on the content of our website.
Always consult your own doctor if you're in any way concerned about your health.