Sore throat. Difficulty in swallowing. Swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms may not just mean you have a simple sore throat, as these are also signs of strep throat. This article gives information about the signs of strep throat and how the condition is diagnosed and treated.
About Strep Throat
The signs of strep throat are caused by bacteria, specifically, those that belong to the Streptococcus strain. There are several bacteria that belong to this group, which means that there are different possible bacterial causes of strep throat. While the signs of strep throat are commonly experienced by kids and teens, anyone, regardless of age, can actually contract the condition, especially since this is a highly-contagious disease that can be passed on through person-to-person contact. This is because the Streptococcus bacteria can go into the air if a person who has strep throat coughs or sneezes without covering the mouth. As such, a person can pass the condition to their family members or anyone else they have close contact with, such as their schoolmates and office mates.
If left untreated, the signs of strep throat can elevate to rheumatic fever. The throat condition can also cause post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, a rare kidney complication.
Signs of Strep ThroatThe signs of strep throat usually manifest between 2 and 5 days after you come in contact with the Streptococcus bacteria. The signs of strep throat can occur without warning, and these can include:
• Sore throat;
• Sudden fever, usually over 101 F (38.8 C);
• Red throat, which can be accompanied by white or yellow patches in the throat area
• Lymph nodes in the neck become swollen
• Dizziness, nausea, or vomiting
• Stomach pain
• Body pain
• Difficulty in swallowing
• Loss of appetite
• Taste of food becomes different
• In rare instances, the person who shows the signs of strep throat may also experience having rashes that resemble scarlet fever
The signs of strep throat can range from mild to severe. In the more severe cases, the patient experiences severe pain and extreme difficulty in swallowing. This is why most of those who suffer from this condition want to go to the doctor in order to try to find relief from strep throat.
How is Strep Throat Different from Simple Sore Throat?
Not all sore throats can be classified as strep throat. In fact, an ordinary sore throat is usually caused by a viral infection, and not by bacteria as in the case of strep throat. However, the signs of strep throat may be similar to simple sore throat, which is why people interchange the two. One way to identify one from the other is that sore throat is usually accompanied by a stuffed or runny nose, coughing, and sneezing, which are usually not part of the signs of strep throat. Other tests will need to be conducted aside from an ordinary physical examination to make sure that you have strep throat and not sore throat.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Strep Throat
Showing the signs of strep throat isn’t enough for you to be diagnosed with the condition. A rapid strep test is usually conducted by a doctor in order to see if you have the condition or not. If the results come back as negative but the physician still believes that you have the signs of strep throat, he or she may request a throat swab to check if there are Streptococcus bacteria in your throat. The results of the test will usually be released two or three days after the exam. The throat swab is not necessary should the rapid strep test appear as positive.
Once strep throat is properly diagnosed, the doctor will begin strep throat treatment. While the condition usually disappears on its own, treatment is usually advised in order to get relief from the signs of strep throat. Some of the things that your doctor will ask you to do to get relief from the signs of strep throat include:
• Avoiding cold liquids. Instead opt for warm liquids such as tea;
• Gargling at least three times a day with salt water;
• Sucking on throat lozenges;
• Using a humidifier or a vaporizer at home to moisten the throat; and
• Taking pain medications that are available over the counter.
Antibiotics for strep throat such as penicillin or amoxicillin may also be prescribed. Do note that the antibiotics may not help you recover faster. Instead, antibiotics are usually prescribed so that you won’t be as contagious to other people, as well as lessening the chances of the bacteria spreading to other parts of the body. Taking the antibiotics will usually stop you from becoming contagious after two days of use.
A person who shows the signs of strep throat is usually quarantined or else asked to stay at home for a few days, at least until he or she stops becoming contagious. That way, he or she won’t end up accidentally spreading the infection to the other people he or she comes in direct contact with.
Prevention of Strep Throat
There are ways that you can do in order to prevent having signs of strep throat. These include:
• Don’t come in contact with someone with strep throat. While it may be difficult to identify someone who you encounter on the street as showing signs of strep throat, you can avoid contact with someone who you know has this infection. Should you come in contact with them, wash your hands as soon as you can to avoid contracting the illness, and don’t share drinks or toothbrushes with that individual.
• Frequent hand washing is important in order to prevent having strep throat. This is because the bacteria can live for a short time on surfaces that you touch, which means you can get infected if you touch doorknobs, water faucets, and other such objects that were previously touched by someone who has strep throat.
• If you are recovering from strep throat, it might be a good idea to change your toothbrush, even before you finish taking the antibiotics. This is because the bacteria can still live in your toothbrush, and continuing to use it can cause you to show the signs of strep throat once again. Also, keep your toothbrush separate from the toothbrushes of the rest of the household to avoid infecting them as well.
The signs of strep throat, while painful, are treatable. If you suspect that you have the condition, do consult with your doctor to get diagnosed so you can begin treatment as soon as possible.