A sore throat can be a nuisance making eating, drinking, and even swallowing a painful experience. Many people think strep throat is the same as a typical sore throat. This is not the case. While many sore throats are due to viral infections, strep throat is different. Here are some facts you need to know about strep throat:
Strep Throat is a Bacterial Infection
Unlike other types of viral sore throats, strep throat is an infection caused by group A Streptococcus, otherwise known as “group A strep,” bacteria. Viral sore throat infections usually include a runny nose, cough, and congestion. Strep throat is a bacterial infection with symptoms, along with a severely sore throat, including:
- Fever of 101 degrees or more
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
- Red and swollen tonsils
- Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Stomach ache
Strep Throat Can Affect Anyone
This bacterial infection is common in school-aged children, mainly because of close contact and less careful hygiene habits. A person at any age, however, can get it.
Strep Throat is Contagious
Direct contact with the infected person spreads strep bacteria. This includes contact with mucus from the nose or throat as well as through the air by sneezing or coughing. An infected person is generally not contagious 24 hours after receiving medications. Those not receiving treatment can be contagious for 10 to 21 days.
Throat Cultures diagnose strep Throat
Simply looking at the throat will not diagnose strep. Doctors need to perform a throat culture by swabbing the throat and determining if the A Streptococcus bacteria is present. This test can take 24 to 48 hours, but rapid tests are helping diagnose the condition quicker. A person with strep throat should stay home until medications are taken, and the fever goes down.
Antibiotics Treat Strep Throat
A doctor will generally prescribe a 10 day course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing strep throat. It is important to take all the prescribed antibiotics, even if you are feeling better, to prevent reoccurrence.
Getting Treatment is Important
Strep throat may get better on its own, but seeing your doctor and getting the proper medications will reduce the time of sickness, prevent the spread of infection to others, and eliminate the chance for more serious health problems. Some complications of the strep bacteria spreading include rheumatic fever and kidney problems.
Prevent the Spread of Strep Throat
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) outlines some tips for protecting yourself from strep throat. These include:
- Washing hands often.
- Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Don’t drink from the same glass or use others’ eating utensils.
Knowing the facts about strep throat helps you reduce the time of your illness and stop the spread of this bacterial infection.