Understanding the Cause
The cause of strep throat is an infection by streptococcus bacteria. The disease spreads through the nasal secretions or saliva of the infected person. It is more commonly seen in older children (between the ages of 5-15 years), but adults can also get infected.
The disease can be diagnosed by the doctor with the help of strep test at the clinic or by collecting a throat swab and sending it to the pathological laboratory for culture examination.
Strep throat is a serious illness and requires prompt and proper treatment because it can cause a complication named Rheumatic fever that can damage the valves of the heart. With proper treatment, strep throat is completely cured in a period of 10 days.
Symptoms and signs of Strep Throat
The course of illness in strep throat is more severe than sore throat with cold. The common symptoms of strep throat are as follows:
- Abrupt Sore throat
- Appetite is suppressed
- Pain while swallowing food or drink
- Tonsils are swollen, red, and white or yellow spots can be seen within the tonsillar tissues
- Body aches
Diagnosis of Strep Throat
Because of the severity and the possibility of Rheumatic fever, it is important to differentiate between strep throat and sore throat with cold. There is a similarity between the symptoms of both diseases. Therefore, for the diagnosis of strep throat, the doctor may advise a strep test or bacterial culture examination.
Strep test is a simple, painless, and rapid test that the doctor performs at the clinic. The back of the throat is wiped with the help of a cotton swab and it is immediately tested for the presence of streptococcus bacteria. A positive strep test means that the disease is strep throat. The physician can also send the collected throat swab to the pathological laboratory for culture examination. The results of this test are available within 24 to 48 hours.
Treatment of Strep Throat
Antibiotics serve as the backbone in the treatment of strep throat that clear the infection by killing the causative bacteria. Antibiotics can be prescribed in the form of pills, syrup, or shots depending upon the severity of disease and the age of patient. Commonly used antibiotics are penicillins and amoxicillin but penicillins cannot be given to patients who are allergic to them.
Beside antibiotics, other medicines to relieve fever, body aches and other symptoms are also given. They include
- Pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
- Nasal decongestant sprays.
Supportive measures include:
- Adequate diet.
- Lots of warm drinks.
- Use of a vaporizer.
If Strep Throat persists despite the Treatment
When the condition of strep throat shows no signs of improvement despite continuing the treatment, the treating physician should be contacted immediately.
The appearance of the following symptoms should also be reported:
- Continued fever.
- Pain in ears and headache.
- Itching on skin
- Swelling of the glands
- Pain in joints
- Dark urine or chest pain.