Strep Throat: A Common Pain

I feel like I am swallowing razor blades.

While there can be many causes of a sore throat, one of the most common reasons is strep throat or just ‘strep’ for short. The CDC reports that there are around 11,000-13,000 cases every year. Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus. While adults can get strep, it is more common in children ranging from five to fifteen years old. It is rare to see strep develop in children younger than three. Common symptoms include painful and difficult swallowing, fever, red and swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes, and can even include a rash known as scarlet fever.

Strep A is spread through contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. If you touch your mouth, nose or eyes after touching these droplets, you may become ill. It usually takes two to five days for someone exposed to the bacteria to become ill.

Though most sore throats are caused by viruses, it is very important to determine if a group A strep is the cause. A rapid strep test or a throat culture is needed. If the test is positive, a provider can prescribe antibiotics. If the test is negative, but the provider still strongly suspects strep throat, he/she can take a throat culture and confirm if there is any bacterial growth after a few days. This culture can be important to use in children and teens as they are at risk of getting rheumatic fever if their strep throat infections is not treated.

Someone who has no symptoms, but tests positive is known as a “carrier.” Carriers usually do not need antibiotics as they are less likely to spread the bacteria to others and very unlikely to get complications. If someone keeps getting a sore throat after testing positive for strep throat and being treated with the appropriate antibiotics, this may be a clue that the person is a strep carrier. Talk to your healthcare professional if you think you or your children may be a carrier.

If you or a family member tests positive for strep throat be sure to have them stay home from work, school or daycare until they no longer have a fever and have taken the antibiotics for at least 24 hours. Get a new toothbrush after 3 days of antibiotics so you do not re-infect yourself. Some home remedies that can help ease the discomfort include gargling with salt water, drinking cold liquids or ice pops, taking Tylenol or NSAIDS for the discomfort, and drinking warm liquids with lemon or honey.

If you have any questions or believe you or a family member may be suffering from strep throat, don’t hesitate to contact us or stop by one of our clinics.