Many people will come down with a sore, itchy throat over the course of the year. Often, colds, other viruses, and dry air due to heating systems are to blame for this irritation. Smoke and pollution can also cause your throat to hurt. But strep throat is a sore throat condition that is caused by bacteria. It’s important to determine whether a throat is hurting due to strep or a different irritant in order to be able to treat it properly.
How Do You Contract Strep Throat?
Strep throat is an infection of the throat and tonsils that is caused by a group of bacteria called A streptococcus. The bacteria live in the nose and throat and can be transmitted from someone who is sick with or carrying the virus. It spreads through close contact — if someone sick coughs or sneezes, he can release the bacteria into the air. It can also land on nearby objects, and a person who touches these objects, such as door handles, sink faucets, etc., can get sick as well. If a person is known to be sick with strep throat, it’s important to avoid contact with her and with objects she has touched until she is no longer contagious. It’s also important to wash hands frequently and avoid touching the face, where it is easy to transmit the disease.
Strep throat is most common in school-aged children and teens. There is a peak incidence in kids between 5 and 15 years of age. However, adults can also develop strep throat. It occurs most commonly between late fall and early spring.
Symptoms of Strep Throat
The main symptom of strep throat is a sore throat. Usually, the symptoms will begin one to four days after an individual has come in contact with the bacteria. A sore throat will usually start very suddenly, and the back of the throat and tonsils may become red and swollen right away. It will be painful to swallow, and some individuals may experience dehydration because swallowing fluids is so painful.
Strep throat and a viral sore throat can have many of the same symptoms. However, the presence of certain symptoms can differentiate strep from a viral sore throat. If a patient has the following symptoms along with a sore throat, it could be strep:
- Fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Red, swollen tonsils
- White patches in the throat
- Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Appetite loss
- A headache
- Nausea and vomiting
If an individual is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact a healthcare professional to get the proper treatment. Gonzaba Urgent Care can help you get the treatment you need for strep throat and other illnesses.
In order to diagnose strep throat, a doctor will ask about symptoms the individual is experiencing. If the patient is presenting the known symptoms of strep, the doctor will want to perform a test to determine if it is strep. The rapid strep test involves using a tongue depressor to gently hold down the tongue in order to swab the back of the throat with a cotton swab. Doctors can test the cotton swab for the presence of the bacteria and deliver results within 20 minutes. Doctors can also do a throat culture, which involves rubbing a sample from the throat swab onto a special dish — if there is strep is the sample, it will grow bacteria in the dish. This test takes about two days to get results.
The only way to get rid of strep throat is with antibiotics that can kill the bacteria. The antibiotics start working right away and should provide relief from symptoms within one to two days, but most treatments take a full 10 days to run their course and kill the bacteria completely. Antibiotics also reduce the risk of complications that can arise from strep throat. Generally, an individual won’t be contagious after one to two days of antibiotics.
Individuals can also take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen in order to relieve the pain in the throat and bring the fever down.
Prevention is the first step in making sure you don’t suffer from strep throat. In order to prevent infection, it’s important to keep your hands clean. Wash hands frequently throughout the day, especially after coming in contact with public spaces, such as bathrooms, schools, office buildings, etc. Be sure to educate children on the importance of washing their hands, and carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer in order to kill germs when a sink isn’t available. Always cover mouths when coughing or sneezing in order to protect the bacteria from escaping or entering your mouth or nose. And don’t share personal items, such as drinking glasses, utensils, plates, etc. Wash these items thoroughly in hot water with antibacterial soap between uses.
Getting proper care for strep throat is important to minimize the amount of pain you have to deal with and also to ensure that you aren’t carrying a contagious bacteria that you can spread to others. Contact Gonzaba Urgent Care today for affordable, fast relief if you think you may be suffering from strep throat.