If you have an itchy and scratchy throat, it’s easy to assume that the problem may be sore throat, but that not true. You could be suffering from strep throat, an infection that can trigger sore throat. But, what is strep throat? We have compiled a list of questions about strep throat.
What is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils. The infection is named after the cause, Streptococcal bacteria and can affect anyone but is more common in children aged five and 15 years.
Although it can occur at any time, strep throat is common in certain times of the year such as winter or fall seasons.
Are All Sore Throat Caused by Strep Throat?
No. Strep throat is a less common cause of sore throat. Most sore throats are caused by a virus. Furthermore, other factors such as cold, irritants, sinus infection, acid reflux, or postnasal drip can also irritate the throat.
If I get Strep Throat, Will My Family Be Affected Too?
Yes. Strep throat is contagious. The infection is spread when you come in contact with an infected person. Interestingly, adults get strep throat from touching an infected child.
Take note; not all people are contagious. It is possible to have the strep-causing bacteria without having the infection. That’s because some people may be carriers.
The risk of spreading the infection decreases when you are taking antibiotics.
How Does Strep Throat Occur?
Strep throat appears when airborne droplets get into your body through touching, coughing, or sneezing. Close living quarters provide an ideal environment for the infections to spread.
Are Strep Throat Symptoms Same as Cold or Flu?
No. Cold, caused by an influenza virus causes coughing, stuffy or runny nose, and sneezing.
Strep throat infection, on the other hand, causes inflammation, fever, swollen lymph nodes, severe sore throat, white and yellow patches in the tonsils. You may also experience belly pain and headache.
In most cases, the strep throat symptoms will improve with home remedies and antibiotics. However, if you start to experience high fever, you have difficulty sleeping, or red rash appears, you need to visit our emergency room.
Are There Complications?
If the strep throat is left untreated or partially treated, it could lead to complications.
- Acute rheumatic fever is a common complication of strep throat. When the infection is inadequately treated, the bacteria can remain in the tonsils and trigger a persistent immune response. This response may, in turn, cause a reaction where your immune cells mistakenly attack your organs and joints causing rheumatic fever or kidney failure
- Abscess in the tonsils which can lead to severe infections affecting eating and swallowing.
How Is Strep Throat Treated?
Antibiotics can get rid of the bacteria and prevent complications. It is vital to complete the dosage (which lasts for ten days) even after the symptoms clear. Stopping the medication can leave a bacterial residue which can cause a reoccurrence or worse still rheumatic fever.
Home remedies such as gaggling with salt water, taking lozenges, drinking warm fluids, avoiding acidic foods and resting can also help reduce the symptoms.
Do I Need Vaccination?
No, currently there is no vaccine against the bacteria. However, you can prevent the risk of strep throat using these tips:
- Avoiding contact with the infected persons
- Maintain proper hygiene by washing your hands frequently and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- Cover your mouth while coughing or sneezing
- Don’t share your utensils with an infected person.
Is Strep Throat a ‘Flesh-eating bacteria’?
Not precisely. Strep throat is caused by Streptococcus pharyngitis, a string of bacteria from the Streptococcus group. Streptococcus is a flesh-eating bacteria that cause infections such as necrotizing fasciitis.
Strep throat is a mild illness of the flesh-eating bacteria, so there is nothing to worry about.
Take Necessary Action
Don’t ignore the strep throat symptoms because if left untreated, the infections can lead to other health complications. Contact us when you suspect you have strep throat and we will assess and create a treatment plan.