Strep Throat: Symptoms, How it gets spread, Tests and Exams, Treatment, Prevention and Tips

strep throat antibiotics

It is a disease that infects the throat of mainly kids and adolescents.

However, experts observe its presence in people of all age groups. The disease affects the soft palate and tonsils of the mouth.

The Group A: Streptococcus bacteria got identified as the organism that causes strep throat. Strep throat is a very contagious ailment; It can disperse quickly through the air. Sneezing and coughing can spread this disease from an infected person to a healthy one. Sharing food can also spread this disease.

If left untreated, strep throat may result in rheumatic fever, disorders of the heart, temperature, and inflammation of the kidneys.

Streptococcus is a type of bacteria. There are two types, group A, and group B.

Group A streptococcus causes:

  • Throat infection: An irritated and sore throat. Your tonsils may be swollen and have white spots
  • Scarlet fever: A disease that occurs after strep throat. Causes a red rash on the body
  • Impetigo: An infection in the skin
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Cellulitis and necrotizing fasciitis (necrotizing disease).

Group B strep can cause blood infections, pneumonia, and meningitis in newborns. A test during pregnancy can indicate if you have it. If so, intravenous antibiotics during labor can save your baby’s life.

Adults can also get infections from group B streptococci, especially if they are older or have health problems. Group B Streptococcus can cause infections in the urinary tract, blood and skin in adults; And pneumonia.

Antibiotics are used to treat streptococcal infections.

What are the symptoms of strep throat?

The symptoms of strep throat are different for different age groups. The symptoms are similar to other bacterial or viral infections and can be easily mistaken for other diseases. Sore throats caused by viral infection also show same signs, but the symptoms of strep throats are more severe and intense. Symptoms of strep throat do not show up immediately after contact with the bacteria.

The incubation period of the bacteria is 3-4 days, after which symptoms begin to show.

Some of the common symptoms of strep throat are:

  • Irritated and painful throat.
  • High fever typically over 102 F.
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Inflammation of the tonsils present in the back of the mouth (sometimes pus is also observed).
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes (nodes present in the upper region of the neck).
  • White patches in the throat.
  • Petechiae in the soft palate of the throat.
  • Rash over the torso and groin region.
  • Nausea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Stomach pain.
  • Vomiting.
  • Muscle aches.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Lack of appetite for food and general weakness.

If a person is experiencing high fever, bleeding of the throat, difficulty in breathing, extreme difficulty in swallowing, dehydration and pronounced swelling of lymph nodes, some consider it as a medical emergency, and the person must seek immediate medical attention.

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How do you get the disease?

Bacteria that cause streptococcal pharyngitis and spread through direct contact. Adolescents usually contract more strep throat during school days, when large numbers of people gather in confined spaces.

Bacteria that cause strep throat tend to lodge in the nose and throat, so sneezing, coughing or shaking hands are ways to spread the infection to other people. That is why it is so important that you wash your hands as often as possible.

Tests and exams

Many other causes of a sore throat may have the same symptoms. The health care provider must do a test to diagnose strep throat and decide whether to prescribe antibiotics. Medical experts can perform a rapid streptococcal analysis at most provider offices. However, it can be harmful even if streptococcus is present.

If the rapid test for streptococci is negative and the health provider still suspects that the streptococcus bacteria is causing the sore throat, a throat exudate (culture) can be tested to see if these bacteria proliferate there. Results will take 1 to 2 days.

How is strep throat treated?

Strep throat is treated using antibiotics. Medical specialists give drugs to the penicillin family like amoxicillin or the cephalosporin family like cephalexin, cefprozil, and others.

In people that are moderately allergic to these families, doctors administer medications of the macrolide family like erythromycin, azithromycin, and others. If the person is unable to tolerate drugs of the macrolide family, healthcare providers use clindamycin.

A sore throat should only be treated with antibiotics if the test for streptococci gives a positive result. Medicines are taken to prevent rare but more serious health problems, such as rheumatic fever.

  • Penicillin or amoxicillin gets first tested with the drugs.
  • Certain antibiotics may also work against the streptococcus bacteria.
  • Antibiotics should be taken for ten days, although the symptoms often disappear within a few days.

The following tips can help improve sore throats:

  • Drink hot liquids, such as tea with honey or lemon.
  • Gargle several times a day with warm water with salt (½ teaspoon or 3 g of salt in 1 cup or 240 mL of water).
  • Drink cold liquids or fruit flavored ice cream.
  • Sucking hard candy or throat lozenges. These products should not be given to young children because they can drown.
  • A fresh air vaporizer or humidifier can moisturize and relieve a dry and painful throat.
  • Over-the-counter analgesics such as paracetamol.

These treatments are used to lessen the severity of symptoms as well as to put a halt to the spreading of this infection to other parts. Along with the antibiotics, doctors may also prescribe OTC drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to reduce fever and throat pain.

The patient should feel substantial relief after 48 hours of the inception of treatment. If assistance is not pressed, patients should approach the doctor urgently. One should always finish the full course of antibiotics prescribed by the doctor to avoid complications shortly.

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Most people with strep throat can spread the infection to others until they have received antibiotics for 24 to 48 hours. These people should stay home from school, daycare or work until they have been given antibiotics for at least one day.

Get a new toothbrush after 2 or 3 days, but before finishing the antibiotics. Otherwise, the bacteria can live on the brush and reinfect it when the antibiotics effect wears off. Also, keep household utensils and toothbrushes separate unless washed.

If there are still recurrences of the disease in a family, checks could be done to see if someone is carrying the streptococcus. Sometimes treating such carriers may prevent others from contracting strep throat.

What can you do to feel better?

Drink plenty of fresh liquids, such as water or moisturizing serum, especially if you the person has a fever. Avoiding orange juice, lemonade, and other sour drinks because they may irritate the throat. Warm liquids such as soup, tea with honey or hot chocolate can have a calming effect on the throat.

The patient should ask the doctor before using over-the-counter throat sprays because some of them may make strep infections worse.