All Your Basic Strep Throat Questions Answered
Throat pain can be quite frustrating, and everyone wouldn’t want to experience it. Unfortunately, it can develop, however much you try to avoid it. In this article, we look at some of the most commonly asked questions about strep throat. Keep reading to explore them.
What is strep throat, and what causes it?
Strep throat is a contagious disease caused by bacteria known as Group A Streptococcus. This is quite different from what causes a viral sore throat, which develops due to a virus. You can get infected with strep throat if you get exposed to the bacteria through a sneeze or cough by someone already infected with strep throat.
Additionally, the bacteria can also be transferred on objects such as a door handle or faucet. So when an infected person touches an object with contaminated hands, and another person touches the object, they are more likely to get infected.
These bacteria can cause infections ranging from mild infections, such as impetigo and cellulitis, to more severe infections, such as kidney problems, rheumatic fever, toxic shock syndrome, etc. It takes between three to seven days for symptoms to appear after someone has been infected.
What are the symptoms of strep throat?
Strep throat has almost the same symptoms as the common flu. However, there are some differences. The most common symptoms of strep throat include
- Pain or difficulty swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils
- Body aches
- Red spots near the back of the mouth
- Loss of appetite
It’s worth mentioning that symptoms usually appear suddenly, without cold symptoms or a cough.
How will you know if it is a strep throat or a viral sore throat?
Children and adolescents are more likely to develop strep throat compared to adults. But this doesn’t mean that adults cannot develop strep throat; it is also possible for them to develop this condition.
A virus usually causes a viral sore throat, and it manifests itself in the form of flu or cold. Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, hoarseness, etc. Strep throat, on the other hand, is caused by bacteria. It’s symptoms, as mentioned above, are a bit different from those of a viral sore throat. Moreover, since a viral sore throat develops because of a virus, most patients with this condition are less likely to receive antibiotics from their physicians.
Is strep throat contagious?
If left untreated, strep throat becomes highly contagious. The bacteria spread through contact with secretions from an infected person’s throat, primarily through a cough or sneeze. If you develop strep throat, you will be contagious up to about 24 hours after you have started taking antibiotics.
When should I see a doctor?
If you or your child is experiencing throat pain that has lasted for at least 48 hours, you should visit an emergency room such as Bulverde ER as soon as possible. If you or your child is also experiencing difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, or joint pain, you should visit a doctor.
Can strep throat go away on its own?
Strep throat is a self-limited disease. This means that it can go away spontaneously without treatment. Antibiotics, such as amoxicillin and penicillin, are usually prescribed to kill the bacteria and stop it from spreading to other people. The antibiotics also help prevent the patient from experiencing severe complications from the condition, such as scarlet fever or rheumatic fever.
How can I avoid strep throat?
Fortunately, there are few precautions one can take to reduce the chances of developing strep throat infection. The first and most important precaution is washing hands frequently. Washing your hands frequently can help you prevent this bacterial infection. If you touch a contaminated object and wash your hands immediately before touching your eyes, mouth, or nose, your chances of contracting the disease are minimal. Again, it is also important for you or your child to cover the mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.
Individuals with strep throat should also not use the same food utensils or glasses as other people around them. If you are already infected with strep throat, it’s essential to remain at home, rather than risk infecting your colleagues or friends for a period of about 24 hours. This also applies to your child; he or she should not go to school or play outside to avoid putting his or her classmates or friends at risk of exposure for at least 24 hours.