A sore throat could be caused by a streptococcal infection.
Strep throat is a common medical condition. It can occur not just in the pediatric age group, but also in adults and the elderly. There are a lot of cases of adults who mistakenly believed they couldn’t possibly get strep throat because they had their tonsils removed in childhood.
Sore throat vs strep throat
Not all sore throats are caused by streptococci or get diagnosed by a rapid strep test or need antibiotics. Many sore throats and throat infections are caused by other bacteria and viruses that don’t need antibiotic treatment or won’t respond to treatment with antibiotics.
What causes a streptococcal sore throat?
Strep infection of the throat is a contagious disease in children and adults. The bacteria that cause strep throat (group A streptococcus) in children tend to reside in the nose and throat. A normal activity like sneezing, coughing, or shaking hands will easily spread this infection from one child to another.
Strep throat symptoms
Strep throat is a mild infection but it can be very painful and uncomfortable. Symptoms may differ from person to person but the most common in children and adults include:
- Quick and sudden sore throat
- Painful swallowing
- Swollen tonsils, throat pain, and sometimes white patches of pus
- Small red spots (petechiae) on the roof of the mouth
- Lymph nodes on the neck (front) are swollen
- Headache, stomach ache, nausea, and vomiting in young children
- Loss of appetite
Strep throat test and treatment
A strep test or throat culture will be done using a cotton swab. It only takes 3 minutes to diagnose pediatric strep throat in an urgent care clinic.
If the strep test is positive, both adults and children will need treatment and our doctors will prescribe antibiotics. The most common antibiotics prescribed by most doctors are penicillin or amoxicillin because they’re safer and work well against strep bacteria. Throat lozenges can help relieve pain and discomfort while you’re on medication.
With proper antibiotics and plenty of rest and fluids, a child can return to school or play within a few days of the diagnosis of strep throat.
After taking antibiotic treatment for about 24 hours to 48 hours, you or your child won’t be contagious and by the second or third day after taking treatment with antibiotics, other symptoms should start to subside.
However, you still need to complete a full course of antibiotic treatment, or else the strep infection will relapse or lead to complications. The most common complications after a strep infection are rheumatic fever, guttate psoriasis, or scarlet fever.
Strep throat prevention
It’s possible for people to get strep throat repeatedly. People don’t gain immunity from getting infected once. There is no vaccine for preventing strep throat but there are preventive measures to help protect you and others.
How to prevent getting strep throat:
- Wash your hands as often as possible, especially before preparing food, before eating, and after eating
- If water and soap aren’t available, disinfect your hands with an alcohol-based sanitizer
- Use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
- If tissue isn’t available, cough or sneeze into your elbow or upper sleeve. If you coughed or sneezed on your hands, make sure to wash them immediately
- Throw used tissues in the trash
How to prevent spreading the infection to others:
- Stay at home until you no longer have strep throat symptoms
- Take antibiotics for 12 hours minimum, making sure you follow the doctor’s prescription
- If kids with strep throat start to feel better, continue giving them their medicine until the doctor says it’s okay to discontinue it
- Keep your eating utensils, dishes, and glasses separate. Wash them in hot soapy water after every use
- Don’t allow sharing of food, drinks, or towels with other family members
Get tested and treated for strep throat
Getting tested for strep throat or a sore throat infection is necessary for proper diagnosis and treatment. Some of the patients who get positive strep test results are often:
- Patients who were partially treated with antibiotics
- Patients who are incompletely treated with antibiotics
- Patients who are now complicated with tonsillitis (antibiotic resistance)
- Patients who have a threatened airway
A streptococcal throat infection can be diagnosed using a rapid strep test, which takes about 3 minutes to yield a result. So, book an appointment at the nearest urgent care clinic now to be seen by a reliable healthcare professional and to get the right strep throat treatment for you.