Strep throat is a bacterial infection which affects the throat, causing inflammation and making your throat feel sore and scratchy. This infection is commonly caused by group A Streptococcus bacterium.
Strep throat is common in people of all ages; however, children between the age of 5 and 15 are more likely to be affected by this infection, as sneezing and coughing can easily transmit the infection from one person to another.
What are the Symptoms of Strep Throat?
The following are some of the signs and symptoms:
- Sudden and severe throat pain
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tonsils that appear red and inflamed, with white spots or pus stains.
- Bright red patches on the upper jaw
- Fever and dizziness
- Severe headache
- Irritation and rashes
- Body pain and tiredness
- Feeling nauseous and vomiting in younger age groups
- Appetite loss
A dry throat is the most common symptom of a strep infection in any individual. Sore throats can also be caused by colds and other viruses. However, a virus will generally cause a runny nose, which is one method to identify the difference.
How is strep throat caused?
Strep throat, like other infectious diseases, transmits through close encounters. When infected individuals cough or sneeze, droplets containing streptococcal bacteria are released into the air and is contagious. If someone touches something a person with strep coughed or sneezed on and then wipes their eyes, lips, or nose with the hands, the individual can easily become infected as infection can quickly spread when an item is shared with someone has strep.
Children and teenagers are most vulnerable to streptococcal infection. Adults are not immune to it, but they rarely get affected.
What are the risk factors involved?
Here are a few factors that can increase the risk of strep throat:
- Young age: Children are more likely to develop strep throat.
- Season: Even though strep throat can occur anytime, it spreads faster during winters and early spring.
Strep throat can lead to serious complications. Timely antibiotic treatment reduces the risk.
Spread of infection
Strep throat bacteria may spread, causing infection in:
- Middle ear
Strep infection may cause inflammatory disease, including:
- Inflammation of the kidney (post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis)
- Scarlet fever, a streptococcal infection characterized by prominent rash
- Post-streptococcal reactive arthritis, a condition that leads to the inflammation of joints
- Rheumatic fever, a severe inflammatory condition which may affect the joints, skin, heart and nervous system
How can you prevent?
The following measures can be taken to avoid strep throat infection:
- Hand washing is the most effective approach to avoid all types of infections. We must wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Educate children on staying clean and washing their hands properly before consuming eatables.
- Alcohol-based sanitiser can be considered if there is no soap in place.
- Cover your nose and mouth with handkerchiefs or elbow while sneezing or coughing. It is vital to teaching children to cover their mouths while sneezing in public places.
- Wash dishes, water bottles, or any utensil that contains food, with hot water.
- Avoid sharing food, personal items and water with friends and relatives.
What is the treatment for strep throat?
Bacterial infections such as strep throat may be treated with antibiotics. Several types of antibiotics are available; however, your doctor may prescribe penicillin and amoxicillin for inhibiting the spread of bacteria and infection. It is important to finish the course of medication for complete cure, or else the infection can recur.
Do make sure to contact your nearest Apollo doctor when you experience the signs and symptoms of strep throat to get it treated right away.