Strep throat happens due to bacterial infection in the tonsils and the throat. This disease can also be called as streptococcal sore throat or Streptococcal pharyngitis. The strep throat symptoms can consist of a sore throat and only a doctor can tell if it is a common cold or strep throat.
The primary reason behind the strep throat symptoms is the working of the streptococcal bacteria. You can also catch this disease when someone coughs or sneezes and he is already attacked by this bacterium that generally lives in the throat and nose.
If you do not take care of the strep throat symptoms in time then you might face various other complications like rheumatic fever or inflammation in the kidney. The former can lead up to inflamed and painful joints, a particular kind of rash, and also damage in the heart. Mainly children are affected by strep throats but there are also adults and teenagers as well who get affected by this disease.
Symptoms of strep throat
The strep throat symptoms include:
- Pain in the throat that comes on rather quickly.
- Pain when you try to swallow something.
- Swollen and red tonsils along with patches are white. You might also get pus streaks.
- Red, little dots on the hard or soft palate of the mouth
- Fever over 101 degrees F.
- Tender and swollen nodes of lymph right on your neck.
- Severe headache that won’t go away.
- Rashes on the body.
- Vomiting or nausea (mostly in children).
- Aching of the whole body.
These are the primary strep throat symptoms that one observes. However, other symptoms might include lack of hunger, pain in the belly, etc. The symptoms generally take 2-5 days to make themselves noticeable after you get attacked by the strep bacteria.
Causes of strep throat
The Streptococcus pyogenes works as one of the strep throat causes. This bacterium is also identified as group A streptococcus. This bacterium happens to be very contagious. They get spread through the air and thus when someone with strep throat coughs or sneezes without his mouth closed you might get attacked by the bacteria. You can also get strep throat if you share your food or drink with a patient of strep throat. There are also possibilities of picking up the bacteria from various surfaces like doorknobs and then getting transferred to your mouth or nose or eyes.
When should you see a doctor?
If you are attacked by strep throat bacteria and you don’t know it then it is important for you to see a doctor. Many people become late in seeing a doctor and that leads to further complications. You should see a doctor in case:
- Strep throat symptoms are not vanishing even after a week or two.
- You are frequently attacked by a sore throat and the painkillers do not work on you.
- You have a fever that won’t go away. This means you need immediate doctor help as the infection has already spread. These types of infections can cause various complications or problems in breathing as well.
- You find it difficult to breathe.
- Swallowing any type of liquid or hard food is very difficult and causes immense pain in your throat.
- You drool often.
- Your immune system is weak.
Diagnosing strep throat
When you visit the doctor with strep throat symptoms the doctor will examine you and search for signs of throat infection or strep throat.
It is quite difficult to know if the throat infection has been caused by bacteria or a virus. Some of the viral infections in the throat show far worse signs than what strep throat bacteria cause. This is why the doctor might prescribe you some of the below-mentioned tests to know what exactly is causing your throat infection.
- Throat culture: In this test, a swab is used to collect bacteria from the tonsils and the back of the throat. The process is not very painful but you might feel someone is tickling you and it might also feel like gagging.
- Rapid antigen test: With the help of this test, the swab gets examined for antigens that are part of the bacteria and thus the strep bacteria are easily identified.
- Rapid DNA test: In this method, DNA technology is put to use to find out strep throat bacteria and infection.
Treating strep throat
Doctors generally recommend antibiotics for strep throat treatment. Antibiotics help to shorten the time that you get to be contagious and thus spread the disease to the different parts of your body as well as to others. Moreover, taking antibiotics can almost make you get better faster.
You should remember that you work as a contagious person when you are having the symptoms. However, if you start taking strep throat antibiotics then you will mostly stop to remain contagious within 24 hours or so of taking the medicine. In case you do not take your antibiotics you will be remaining contagious for almost 1-3 more weeks even after your strep throat symptoms have vanished.
You might also be prescribed some common medicinal drugs like acetaminophen (for example Tylenol) or even ibuprofen (for example Motrin or Advil) that will help you to get rid of your pain and also lower your temperature. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen come with different dosage of uses as they are essentially different kinds of products
If your child is affected by strep throat then you must consult your doctor before you switch between acetaminophen and ibuprofen. When you are changing your medicine it might end up providing the patient with too much medicine. There has been no study that shows changing medicines essentially results in positive comebacks. Therefore, you should deal carefully with the medicines you take or give your child. You must read the labels of the medicine packet carefully and take only the dose that the doctor has prescribed you.
Remedies of strep throat
Most of the doctors claim that strep throats cannot be exactly prevented as they are caused by bacteria. However, there are some remedies available that help the patient when he is already attacked y strep throat. Some of the strep throat remedies are mentioned below that can be easily followed at home:
1. Drinks to have or not have
Make sure to avoid hot drinks and food that will cause irritation in your throat. You should also remain away from cold drinks as they might bring back strep throat symptoms. You should take lukewarm drinks that would soothe your throat.
2. No smoking
If you are a smoker then make sure to avoid smoking till the time you are completely okay. Smoking while having a strep throat will cause more irritation in your throat and will become painful.
3. Having ice and gargling often
You can also gently suck ice cubes as they often help in reducing the symptoms. Make sure you gargle with lukewarm water after mixing a little bit of alt in it. It helps to alleviate persistent pain and also reduces the swelling of the throat.
4. Use honey
You can also use honey to relieve the pain in your throat due to infection. However, make sure if your child is below 12 months old then you should not give him/her honey.
5. Eat healthily
While being under the strep throat attack make sure to take enough nutritious food. Your diet should consist of vegetables and fruits along with with with high-quality fats, whole grains as well as lean proteins. Taking a balanced diet will help your immune system to get stronger and thus fight the strep throat better.
You should also exercise daily to keep your immune system high, especially when under treatment for strep throat symptoms.
7. Sleep well
Make sure you do not compromise on sleep when you are attacked by strep throat bacteria. It is important to rest your body properly as otherwise, it would not be easy for you to get rid of the strep throat.
8. Maintain hygiene
You should always clean your hands with soap or other solutions to make sure you can prevent the bacteria attack. Even if you get attacked by the strep throat bacteria you should continue this practice for faster recovery.
9. Keep mouth covered
When you have strep throat make sure to cover your mouth when you are sneezing or coughing. This will help you to prevent other people from getting affected by the same bacteria. You should also sneeze in the insides of your elbows rather than in the palms of your hands as that would make sure that any surface you touch does not get contaminated.
10. Don’t share utensils
When you get diagnosed by strep throat make sure to keep your drinking glass and other utensils isolated from others. This would also help in preventing the bacteria from spreading.
Facts about strep throat antibiotics
Antibiotics should only be used when the patient has got a severe bacterial infection. In many of the cases, specialists have said that antibiotics often work no better than the normal pain killer medicines. Doctors generally opt for antibiotics if the patient has a rather weak immune system as in that case the chances of the infection getting complicated get increased. In such cases, doctors generally use antibiotics even without testing for the bacteria. This can also happen with patients who have histories of rheumatic fever or disease of the heart. Besides these, patients who are repeatedly attacked by throat bacteria may also be given antibiotics.
If the strep throat gets diagnosed with a rapid strep culture or test then the doctor will go for antibiotics in order to get rid of the infection. Very few people get attacked by rheumatic fever or kidney-related problems due to this type of bacteria.
In the case of a child, if he suffers from tonsillitis at regular intervals then the doctor might advise taking surgical measures or tonsillectomy to make the child better.
Complications associated with strep throat
Though the strep throat symptoms can be treated easily, in case they stay, you might face various complications. Some of these complications are mentioned below.
- You might get affected by sinusitis that refers to the infection of sinuses.
- The prolonged infection might go on affecting the skin or ear or even blood.
- Strep throat bacteria can also cause mastoiditis. A type of infection of the skull that remains behind the jaw and is known as mastoid.
- You might also get rheumatic fever. It is an inflammatory disease.
- You can get peritonsillar abscess that is a disease that causes a pocket filled of pus situated near tonsils.
- You can also catch scarlet fever that is caused by toxins that are bacterial and causes the production of scarlet colored rash.
- In cases of children, guttate psoriasis can be caused.
- The kidney can also get inflammation is the strep throat bacteria stay in the body for a longer period of time.
These are almost everything that you need to know about strep throats. Make sure to visit the doctor at the right time when you notice that the alarming symptoms are not vanishing on their own. If it is only a sore throat then it would take a maximum of seven days to get well even without any medication. However, if the problems go on after that time then you should go to the doctor for expert advice.
Make sure to follow the diet chart prepared by the doctor especially for your sick time. Moreover, the treatment and dosage of medicine generally differ for adults and children. It is thus important to take the consultation of a doctor before starting any medicine.
Strep throat especially attacks children and given the fact that their immune system is somewhat weaker than the adults they need immediate attention. It is better that you do not take any medicine on your own without visiting the doctor. People often end up buying wrong medicines for wrong diseases and that only further complicates the problem. Seek expert help and follow what they say.