Strep throat infection is very common, and it is important to know how to recognize it; to learn more about strep throat symptoms, read the following article.
What Is Strep Throat?
Streptococcal sore throat or streptococcal tonsillitis is caused by streptococcus bacteria. This infection affects the tonsils and the larynx. Strep throat usually affects children and younger teenagers. It is very contagious and it is transmitted through close physical contact with the bacteria from the saliva or nasal secretions of an infected person. Throat culture is often used for making the diagnosis; however, strep throat diagnosis can also be made based on the symptoms. In most cases, the infection is treated with antibiotics. These medications can be helpful in preventing various problems that can result from this infection.
Strep Throat Symptoms
The most common symptoms usually include:
● Throat soreness
● Abdominal pain
● Upset Stomach
● Swollen lymph nodes
● Pain in muscles (myalgia)
● Skin rash
The first symptoms will probably start a couple of days after the contact with an infected person.
This infection is caused by beta hemolytic streptococcus. It spreads through direct contact with a person who carries these bacteria. Crowded places are actually perfect for strep throat transmission. That is precisely why children and young teenagers have more chances to get infected. Teenagers are even more vulnerable, since they usually have irregular sleeping patterns, they stay up late, and all this can affect their immune system. Strep throat bacteria need moist to survive. They can survive for two weeks on toothbrushes.
The Centor score can indicate the presence of streptococcal bacteria. 1 point goes to each of the following criteria:
● Body temperature over 100 F (38 C)
● Lymph nodes swelling and tenderness
● Swelling of tonsils
● Age (under fifteen)
Throat culture is often used for making strep throat diagnosis. Another test that is commonly used is so-called “rapid strep test”. This test is very quick, but its sensitivity is lower and it is not as precise as the throat culture method.
Some people carry the bacteria in the throat, but they do not have any symptoms, and they don’t have any problems. Such cases are rare, but they exist. That is why people who don’t have any symptoms are almost never tested with a rapid test or a throat culture. On the other hand, if the symptoms occur, these tests will be used to confirm that there is strep throat infection.
Although strep throat is usually caused by bacteria, the symptoms can be very similar to those of some viral infections. Symptoms like nasal discharge, nausea, coughing, eye irritation, throat soreness and fever are also seen in vital infections, such as sore throat, for example. However, it is important to say that sore throat and step throat are not same. Sore throat is caused by viruses, which means that antibiotics won’t be helpful. Strep throat is usually caused by bacteria (only in rare cases it can be caused by a virus). Infectious mononucleosis is also characterized by enlarged lymph nodes, throat soreness, enlarged tonsils and fever.
How to Prevent Strep Throat
● In cases of recurring strep throat, tonsillectomy can be one of the most effective measures. If you have strep throat more than three times a year, perhaps you should talk to your doctor about this method.
● Strep throat can be prevented if you watch your immune system and your hygiene. During the strep throat season (winter/spring), you must wash your hands frequently. Avoid spending much time in crowded places and do not share eating utensils or drinking glasses/bottles.
How to Treat Strep Throat Infection
● Strep throat treatment usually includes antibiotics and home remedies. Antibiotics will relieve the symptoms and shorten the recovery time. These medications can also reduce the risk of further complications (like retropharyngeal abscesses and rheumatic fever). However, some people are sensitive/ allergic to certain antibiotics, so it is very important to talk to your doctor before you decide to use any of these. Never use any medications on your own!
● Analgesics (paracetamol, for example) can be helpful in relieving the symptoms. Aspirin can be effective as well, but it should not be used in children.
● Home remedies like salt water, honey, lemon, natural juices, warm soups and teas can be very helpful in reliving the symptoms. Gargling with salt water will certainly help you reduce the throat irritation and it will help in eliminating the bacteria.
If left untreated, strep throat can result in certain complications. Some of these include:
● Scarlet fever
● Rheumatic fever
● STSS – Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome
● Pandas syndrome
These complications are rare, and most of them are not too dangerous. However, rheumatic fever can affect the heart and nervous system, and it qualifies as a potentially dangerous condition.