What is Strep Throat?

The inflammation caused in the throat by the bacteria streptococcus causes strep throat. The most common symptoms are sore throat, fever, pain while swallowing, swollen tonsils with red patches, Swollen lymph nodes etc. As this is an airborne disease, it is contagious, spreading through cough and sneezing. General treatment for strep throat is a course of antibiotics like penicillin, amoxicillin etc. Some home remedies like gargling with salt water, drinking hot beverages, and using lozenges can also ease the discomfort.

 You can prevent strep throat by washing your hands or sanitising them, using a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding sharing personal objects with an infected person. To know more about strep throat, read more here.

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Of late, people all over the world have been extremely worried about their own and their family members’ day-to-day health conditions. This includes the most basic of ailments such as cold, sore throat, cough, viral fever, etc. Here’s an explainer on one of the most common ailments of the throat, strep.

Strep throat, characterized by throat pain and inflammation, is a bacterial infection. It is caused due to group A Streptococcus bacteria. Although it is more prevalent amongst children between 5 and 15 years old, it can affect people across ages. Persons with strep throat symptoms need to take care of themselves as they can also spread the strep throat infection to others through airborne respiratory droplets while coughing or sneezing.

Strep Throat Infection

Strep throat Infection

Image Source: Physician 360

Strep throat symptoms

A strep throat infection’s intensity varies from one person to another. The most common and one of the mild strep throat symptoms is a sore throat. Stronger symptoms include difficulty in swallowing and fever. Here are the other common strep throat symptoms.

  • Sudden fever with a temperature of 38˚C or more
  • Headache
  • Red, sore throat and white patches
  • Appetite loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes at the front of the neck
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • Chills
  • White patches in the throat
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Nausea
  • Stomachache
  • Bodyache
  • Vomiting


If you or someone else is showing the following symptoms, it might probably be a viral infection and not a strep infection.

  • Cough
  • Hoarse voice
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (pinkeye)

Strep throat causes

  • You first need to know if it’s strep or sore throat, as there’s always some confusion between the two. The latter is not as painful, and is caused due to viral infection instead of bacteria.
  • Since strep is communicable, it can spread through coughing and sneezing, and even through sharing of food and drinks with an infected person.
  • Bacteria from the infected person can travel through their air via droplets released by them.
  • Once exposed, you can contract strep throat upon touching your nose, eyes, or mouth.
  • Objects such as door knobs and faucets can also carry strep throat bacteria and infect others through touch.
  • Although strep throat infection is more common in children and teenagers, adults, too need to be wary of it at all times.

Strep throat infection in pregnant women

It would be a relief to know that strep throat cannot be passed on from a pregnant woman to her child. However, pregnant women are still at risk of being infected. If left untreated, it can potentially develop into rheumatic fever and kidney inflammation.

If infected, you may try home remedies for strep throat treatment such as warm salt water, herbal teas, lots of rest, etc. apart from consulting your doctor.

Strep throat infection in children

Schools are daycare centers are hotbeds for strep infections, as these are filled with children between the ages of 5 and 15, the most susceptible group to this communicable illness.

Amongst toddlers or children under the age of 3, the occurrence is rare yet possible. Their symptoms include red tonsils, fever, and lymph nodes on the neck. The first thing to do when your baby shows symptoms is to take them to the pediatrician immediately.

Ways of strep throat transmission   

Group A Strep bacteria thrive in the nose and throat of an affected person and can easily be transmitted to others. They can easily spread the bacteria through coughing and sneezing, which creates tiny respiratory droplets containing Group A Strep. What makes this even more worrisome is that some people with strep throat don’t exhibit symptoms or look sick.

Experts are of the opinion that food not handled safely can also possibly lead to the spread of strep throat, but not household objects such as toys.

Strep throat diagnosis

There are two ways for doctors to determine whether you have a strep throat or just a sore throat.

● Rapid strep test:

The doctor will hold your tongue with a depressor, and then take a sample from the back of the throat with the help of a cotton swab. Within 20 minutes, you will get a positive or  negative result. In case of a negative result, the doctor might send the samples to a laboratory for further examination.

● Throat culture:

A swab is run over your throat and tonsils and sent to a laboratory. If you have strep, streptococci bacteria will grow in it. 

Strep throat treatment     

Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics, as it is a bacterial infection. Antibiotics stop the growth of the bacteria and prevent infection. The most common medications prescribed are Penicillin and amoxicillin. Strep throat treatment usually lasts for around 10 days.

Many people discontinue medications once symptoms stop showing. However, this might lead to a relapse. In order to avoid a relapse, ensure that you take all of the prescribed doses.

Home remedies for strep throat

There are a lot of homemade ways to lessen the pain and symptoms of strep throat. Here are some of the top remedies:

  • Gargle with warm salt water.
  • Suck on a piece of hard candy or a throat lozenge. (Avoid candy for children younger than 4 years of age.)
  • Change your toothbrush.
  • Drink warm beverages such as broth and tea.
  • Drink a lot of water for constant hydration.
  • Suck on ice pops, ice chips, or other cold edibles.
  • Eat soft and easy-to-chew foods.
  • Give your body a lot of rest to recover faster.

Strep throat prevention

Although strep throat treatment is very easy and straightforward, there are quite a few ways to prevent it altogether.

  • Always use tissues when you cough or sneeze.
  • Keep washing your hands or sanitize them with an alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Don’t share plates, spoons, and other personal objects with a sick member of the family.
  • Wash utensils and clothes in hot, soapy water.

Conclusion

Strep throat is one of the common illnesses amongst children as well as adults that can give unnecessary trouble if not attended to timely. Times are tough, and we must maintain a safe and healthy environment around ourselves and our family. One major step towards creating a harmonious and secure environment is getting a health insurance cover. While maintaining maximum safety in personal life is under control, the reality is not. Hence, a protective shield is crucial. 

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