Have you recently noticed any pain or aches in your throat with difficulty in swallowing? Well, you might have a sore throat. A sore throat can cause pain and irritation with a scratchy feeling in your throat. It is mostly associated with respiratory tract infections such as cold or flu.
What is Strep Throat?
Streptococcal sore throat is a type of infection caused by Group A streptococcus bacteria that causes throat and tonsils’ inflammation. It is highly contagious
Strep throat mostly affects children of 5 to 15 years of age, although it can affect adults. Its symptoms are similar to any sore throat or throat infections, but some differentiating factors make it unique.
What is the difference between Strep throat and sore throat?
Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection. You should know that not all sore throats are the result of a streptococcus infection. There are many causes for a sore throat including other bacterial and viral infections and allergic causes as well . A sore throat can occur due to various reasons such as cold, flu, postnasal drip, acid reflux, etc. A Strep throat will present as a white patch and dark red spots over the tonsils, accompanied by fever, joint pain, rash, dehydration, difficulty breathing, etc.
What are the causes of Streptococcal sore throat?
Usually, most common sore throats have viral causes , but a strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A streptococci. These infections can spread through droplets i.e. when an infected person coughs or sneezes, that bacteria can infect people who are in proximity. The person may also get infected if they come in contact with an infected surface. It can also spread through dry air, smoking, etc.
What are the symptoms of Streptococcal sore throat?
The presentation of clinical signs and symptoms may differ from person to person. The initial symptoms may only start with a mild feeling of pain and later result in a full-blown infection. The symptoms of Strep throat may appear as early as five days after getting affected or exposed to the bacteria.
Mentioned below are some of the common symptoms of Strep throat:
- A sore throat with white-colored patches over the tonsils and palate
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Severe pain while swallowing
- Pyrexia or fever > 101 degrees of Fahrenheit or > 38 degrees of Celsius
- Frontal headaches which may radiate to the back bilaterally
- Mild Cough
- Enlargement of Lymph Nodes in the neck
- Loss of appetite
- Watery eyes
- Dehydration etc
What are the risk factors of Strep throat?
The risk factors associated with Strep sore throat are:
- It can spread quickly when in contact with an infected person.
- Strep Throat spreads mainly during the winter season and spreads when people congregate.
What are the complications of Strep throat?
A Strep throat infection can resolve within a few days to a week with proper treatment. It can lead to complications such as:
- Scarlet fever, the appearance of a rash after fever from a streptococcus infection
- Kidney inflammation (post-glomerulonephritis)
- Rheumatic Fever
- Rheumatic arthritis involving numerous joints
- Ear infections etc
How can you prevent Strep throat?
You can prevent Strep throat by maintaining personal hygiene, washing your hands regularly either with soap, water, or sanitizers.
Make sure not to share your food or drink with others. Keep all your stuff separated from others such as soap, towels, sheets, etc. Sneeze or cough using a handkerchief or into the crook of the elbow instead of hands.
When to see your Doctor for Strep throat?
You should immediately book an appointment with your doctor if you notice any of the following signs:
- A sore throat infection lasting for more than three days
- White patches in the backside of your mouth (tonsil, patches)
- Difficulty in swallowing or severe pain while swallowing
- Fever more than 101 degrees of Fahrenheit
- Severe dehydration
What is the treatment for Strep throat?
The treatment protocol for Strep throat includes both home remedies and medical treatment.
- Adequate rest and sleep will help fight against infections. Stay at home during the infection period, or at least till the fever has subsided.
- Eat warm and easy-to-swallow foods such as soup, cereals, mashed potatoes, soft-cooked eggs, etc. Avoid spicy and junk food as it may trigger pain and worse the condition.
- Gargling with salt water multiple times a day can help control the spread of infection.
- Use mist humidifiers.
- Avoid intake of cold drinks, alcohol, or smoking as it may increase the severity of the condition, causing problems such as tonsillitis.
- Chewing throat lozenges also allows relieving throat symptoms.
- Essential oils such as Tea Tree oil, lemon, eucalyptus, garlic have been proven beneficial to treat a Strep throat.
To start medical treatment, your doctor /physician will first perform various tests such as a blood test, throat culture, allergic tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Your doctor will then prescribe some antibiotics such as Amoxicillin, Azithromycin, Penicillin, etc. to control the infection.
Mild painkillers such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen may also help ease throat pain during the infection period.
Follow a routine to maintain personal hygiene, wear face masks or stay at home during the infection period, as these steps can help in the early cure of the disease and decrease the spread of the infection.