What is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is swelling and inflammation of the inner throat caused by bacterial infection and other irritations. It is a common infection caused by the bacteria of Streptococcus group.
Strep throat can affect the children and adults of all ages, however, it is especially common among children between the ages of 5 and 15. The infection can spread as the patient sneezes and cough.
Causes of Strep Throat
The problem is mainly caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as GroupA Streptococcus.
Streptococcal bacteria are highly contagious. They can spread through the air, water droplets when someone coughs or sneezes.
It can also spread by sharing foods and drinks with an infected person. Be very careful; wash everything like towels, cups, stationary etc. used by the infected person or you may accidentally transmit the bacteria to your mouth, nose or eyes.
Use disinfectants and sanitizer to prevent the spread of microbes in the surroundings.
Symptoms of Strep Throat
The severity of the infection and soreness of throat can vary from person to person. Some people experience mild symptoms like irritation and mild itching in the throat due to a sore throat, while others have more serious symptoms, cold, fever, and difficulty in swallowing food or drinks.
Common symptoms of strep throat include:
- Sudden Chills and Cold sensations
- White or red patches in the throat
- Redness and blisters in the throat
- Sudden Fever (101* Fahrenheit or higher body temperature)
- Difficulty in swallowing foods
- Hypersensitivity in the throat
- Loss of Appetite
- Swollen nodes appearing in throat
- Swelling of the Lymph Nodes
These symptoms usually appear 4 to 5 days after exposure to the infecting Streptococcus bacteria.
Diagnosis for Strep Throat
Diagnosis will depend on the severity and frequency of the symptoms. If you constantly complain about irritations and inflammation of the throat, your doctor may check for swollen nodes and as ask about other symptoms that discussed earlier.
The doctor may also check your neck, shoulders, and armpits for any swelling of the Lymph nodes. The doctor will do a physical examination and may check for breathing abnormalities caused by the infection. He may also go for either one or more of the following tests to confirm his assumptions:
1. Throat Bacterial Culture Test
It’s a painless procedure but results may take up to 2 days to confirm your infection. The healthcare professional will take a swab sample of the secretion from the tonsils and back of the neck. Now, he will grow a culture of the bacterial sample from your throat to identify the species of the bacteria and administer the correct antibiotic.
2. Antigen Test
When encountered with any harmful infections, our immune systems triggers the release of antigens. These antigens are unique and specific to the infectious substances. Again, the doctor will take a Swab from your throat and examine it for the particular antigens produced to fight Streptococcus bacteria. This procedure is fast and can be done within few minutes.
Treatment of Strep throat
There are many medications available to cure strep throat. These strep throat medicines will relieve its symptoms, and prevent its complications and spread.
Since the strep throat is caused by a Bacterial infection, after the diagnosis a doctor’s first approach will be to prescribe Antibiotics to cure the infections.
Antibiotics will inhibit the spread of bacteria and infections and also kill the bacterial growth. while there are many types of antibiotic medicines available in the market, Amoxicillin and Penicillin are widely prescribed for the treatment of Streptococcus infections.
Note: Discuss the dosage and course information in detail with your doctor. Finish the complete course of your prescribed medication. Take correct dosage and correct frequency to kill the infection completely. Some patients skip or stop their medication as the symptoms are reduced. It can trigger the bacteria to regrow and infection will relapse.
Strep throat can induce symptoms like pain and inflammation on the neck. To relieve such symptoms you can painkiller as well. Painkillers such as Ibuprofen (Aspirin, Motrin IB, Advil, other) can be given to the patient suffering from pain.
If you have symptoms like fever and raised body temperature, antipyretic medicines such as Acetaminophen (Paracetamol, Anacin AF, Tylenol, other) will help in relieving fevers.
Note: Though, the painkiller and fever medicines are available as an Over The Counter (OTC) medicines and you can buy them without a doctor’s prescription; Do not try to Self medicate. It can worsen your situation or cause other serious health implications. Take a Doctor’s advice before taking any medicine.
Be careful while using Aspirin and Paracetamol, especially for children. If a child or teenager is recovering from flu symptoms or symptoms of Chickenpox, administering Aspirin on them can be dangerous. It is because aspirin can increase the probability of catching Reye’s Syndrome in such children. It is a rare phenomenon but it can be fatal.
- Take plenty of rest. Sleeping helps in fighting off the infections in your body. Sleep helps fight infection in your body.
- Avoid going to school or work if you have strep throat. This will prevent the contamination to your colleagues and provide rest to your body.
- Drink plenty of water. strep throat can make it difficult for you to swallow hard food items, so you can drink juices and increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
- If you do smoke, avoid smoking when you have strep throat. Cigarettes can irritate soft tissue in the throat and cause soreness. This can increase the risk of tonsillitis.
- Avoid exposure to substances which have pungent or stingy smell such as paint, petroleum products, sprays etc.
- Avoid alcohol consumption. Though Alcohol has the bacteria-killing properties, it can cause dehydration in the body. This can increase dryness and irritation on the throat.
Home Remedies for Strep Throat
- Drink Herbal teas like Ginger tea, Green tea, and White tea. These hot drinks are filled with beneficial nutrients and herbal healing properties. Also, hot drinks will help to soothe the pain.
- Mix half a teaspoon of table salt in a cup of hot water. Gargle with this water for 5 minutes. Spit the water out. This will provide relief from pain and inflammation. Water will also wash off some of the bacteria.
- Keep sucking on throat lozenges to soothe the throat. If You have diabetes, lozenges may not be suitable as they contain sugars. Try chewing Ginger roots.
- Herbs like Garlic, Turmeric, Ginger, cloves etc. also have antibiotic and pain-killing properties. Include them in your food.
- Include more of soft and easy to swallow foods in your diets. Foods like soups, mashed potatoes, finely chopped and cooked vegetables, yogurt, boiled eggs and mashed fruits are a good.
- Include smoothies in the diet to keep your body nourished and energized. Our immune systems require energy to fight the infections.
Preventing Strep Throat
Prevention is always better than cure. Since the Streptococcus bacteria is highly contagious, you may have to take good care of yourself and others around you. Follow these tips:
- Keep your hands clean before you eat or drink anything. Wash your hands and utensils to keep them bacteria free.
- Infected patients should be kept in isolation to prevent the transmission of bacteria to other people. Wash their clothes, towels separately.
- If you are infected, cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or coughing. Streptococcus can easily travel through the air.
- Wear a Mask to protect yourself from getting the infection.