Strep throat is an infection that is caused by bacteria in the tonsils and throats. The throat becomes inflamed and irritated which brings on a bad sore throat.
As mentioned above strep throat is due to bacteria. The bacterium is known as streptococcal bacteria. There are various types of streptococcal bacteria that can lead to other serious conditions.
What causes strep throat?
Many people as soon as sore throat begins believe they have strep throat; however, some sore throats are actually caused by a viral infection instead of a bacterial infection.
Signs and symptoms of strep throat
The main symptoms of strep throat include
- A severe sore throat that came on suddenly
- Swallowing is painful
- Fever over 101 degrees Fahrenheit
- Swollen tonsils
- Swollen lymph nodes
- White or yellow patches on the back of the throat
- Bright read throat
Some people complain of a headache and stomach as well. Other symptoms that some individuals have but are less common include body aches, lack of appetite, vomiting, and a red rash.
How is strep throat spread?
Strep throat is a very contagious illness that is spread from person-to-person. The illness is spread through saliva or nasal secretions. The main way in which strep throat is spread is through breathing in the secretions of a person when they sneeze or cough. If you are within a few feet of a person with strep throat when they sneeze or cough, you can easily catch the illness.
Strep throat and pregnancy
Many pregnant women worry if they come down with strep throat, as they are afraid that it can be passed to their unborn child. This should not be a worry; however, if you are pregnant, you should ensure you are treated, as your body needs to stay healthy. The streptococcus bacterial that is a concern for pregnant women is the Group B Streptococcus, which is an infection of the rectal or vagina area, which can be passed onto the baby during delivery. This bacterium has nothing at all to do with strep throat.
Treatment for strep throat
Upon visiting your doctor, he or she will exam your throat and perform a strep throat test. A strep throat test is performed by doing a throat culture. Your throat will be swabbed with a cotton stick and then examined using a rapid strep test to ensure the infection is strep.
Strep throat is treated using antibiotics. Antibiotics will not stop the spread of the infection and you will be contagious, however, it will shorten the amount of time you are contagious as well as lower the risk of spreading the infection to other areas of your body.
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Antibiotics for strep throat
The antibiotics often prescribed include penicillin, amoxicillin, and cephalexin.
These antibiotics will not clear up the infection immediately but within 24 hours of taking the medication, you will no longer be contagious. Other reasons to take antibiotics are that it will prevent other complications associated with strep throat.
Complications associated with strep throat
If strep throat goes untreated, it can lead to other serious medical problems. The bacteria that brought on strep throat can spread to other parts of the body and lead to severe complications. It is very rare that the bacteria will spread but left untreated you are taking a risk of developing these conditions.
- These can include:
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
- Abscess behind the tonsils
- Rheumatic fever
- Infection in the lymph nodes in the neck
- Infection behind the pharynx
- Toxic shock syndrome
How to prevent strep throat
The best way to prevent strep throat is to stay away from people that have strep throat. The problem is that you and even the person with strep throat may not know in the beginning this is the cause of their symptoms. Since, strep throat is very contagious, the only way to help prevent strep throat is by boosting your immune system, washing your hands or using alcohol swabs when out in public areas. Strep throat can be spread by coughing into the hand and then touching a door handle and then a well person touching the same handle. While out in public, do not touch your face, eyes, mouth, or nose until you have washed your hands or used an antibiotic or alcohol sanitizer.