Strep throat is an infection caused by bacteria in the throat and the tonsils. Irritation and inflammation occurs in the throat, causing a sudden, severe sore throat. It is called “strep” because the bacteria that causes the infection is called streptococcus. The infection mostly affects children ages 5 to 15, but anyone can get it.
While you or your child may recover from a sore throat without treatment, it’s important to test for strep throat. Strep throat usually needs treatment with antibiotics. With the proper medical care along with plenty of rest and fluids a child should recover within a few days.
What causes strep throat?
Strep throat is caused by streptococcal (strep) bacteria. There are many different types of strep bacteria. Some cause more serious illness than others. Not any any painful sore throat is strep. Sore throats are usually caused by a viral infection and not strep bacteria.
Is strep throat contagious?
Yes. You can pass the strep infection to other people without treatment. It spreads easily from person to person. You can get it by coming into contact with the nose fluids or saliva of someone who has strep throat.
What are the signs & symptoms of strep throat?
The symptoms of strep throat include the following:
- sore throat
- fever over 38.3°C (101°F).
- swollen, sore neck glands
- red and swollen tonsils
- red and white patches in the throat or on the tonsils
You might also get other symptoms such as:
- painful swallowing
- body aches
- lower stomach pain
- general discomfort, uneasiness, or ill feeling
- nausea and vomiting
- not feeling hungry
- a red skin rash
How is strep throat diagnosed?
Your doctor will do a physical examination, ask you about your symptoms and past health. He/she may also use a test called the rapid strep test to diagnose strep throat. For this test, the doctor uses a long cotton swab to take some of the mucus from the back of your throat. The results of this test can be ready in about 15 minutes.
In addition, your doctor may also do a culture of your mucus. If so, he or she will send a sample of your mucus to a laboratory. This test is called a throat culture. It can take up to 2 days to learn the results of a strep culture.
What are the treatment options are available?
Doctors usually prescribe about 10 days of antibiotic medicine to treat strep throat. Within about 24 hours after starting on antibiotics, your child will probably no longer have a fever and won’t be contagious. By the second or third day, other symptoms should start to go away.
Even when your child feel better, they should continue to take the antibiotics as prescribed. Otherwise, bacteria can remain in the throat and symptoms can return. Completing all the antibiotics is the best way to prevent other health problems that a strep infection can cause.
In addition, warm water mixed with salt for gargling. Use warm water (not too hot water) for gargles and add a pinch of salt. Use this mix for gargles multiple times a day. Because, this directs the blood flow to the throat region and cures the infection.
Also, drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. Fever can increase fluid loss and painful swallowing can decrease fluid intake. Therefore, take measures must to avoid dehydration. Choose high-quality fluids such as warm soup and sugar-containing solutions. Because, they help the body absorb the fluids more rapidly. Avoid caffeine because it can cause water loss. Sometimes cold beverages and ice cream can be soothing and beneficial.
Moreover, throat lozenges. Various forms exist, though not advisable for young children.This is due to the possibility of the small lozenge entering the child’s airway.
Finally, Over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen. They can be effective for reducing fever and providing pain control. Adequate pain control can also help with increasing fluid intake.
Prevention of streptococcus throat
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent strep throat. The best preventive measure against strep throat involves instituting natural measures to minimize the spread of the illness to others.
Wash your hands regularly.
This is the first step to prevent spreading the infection. Especially after spending time in public places, hand washing is critical. Frequent hand washing can destroy bacteria that you have acquired from touching surfaces used by other people. You can also carry a small tube of hand sanitizer when visiting public places. Teach your children the importance of hand washing too.
Use disposable items if someone in your family is infected.
Disposable cups can be thrown away after each use. This prevents accidental spread of the bacteria from sharing of cups or glasses. This is particularly important if you have young children who may try to drink from others’ cups. Don’t drink from the same glass or use the same eating utensils. And don’t share toothbrushes.
Regular cleaning of household surfaces.
Door knobs, drawer pulls, keyboards, light switches, remote controls and sinks can all harbor bacteria for hours after their use by an infected person. Wipe these surfaces frequently with soap and water or a disinfectant solution. Wash your child’s toys as well when you are cleaning household surfaces and commonly-used items.
Use paper towels instead of cloths.
Germs can live for several hours on clothing. Always use disposable paper towels in the kitchen and bathroom for hand washing. Dispose of used tissues immediately after use. Used tissues can be a source of bacteria infection that can contaminate any surface where they are left. Each member of the family should have separate items such as towels, sponge etc.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle.
While there isn’t direct evidence to show that eating well or exercising can prevent strep throat, maintenance of a healthy lifestyle, with adequate sleep, good nutrition and physical exercise can help ensure that your immune system is in good condition and ready to fight infection if it occurs.