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Strep Throat: Overview, Causes, Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention

Written by Danica Lacson on September 27, 2018

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat refers to an infection of the throat in which the person's infected throat is severely scratchy or sore.

Strep throat must not be ignored because this can often time cause some complications such as rheumatic fever as well as kidney inflammation.

Rheumatic fever can actually lead to inflamed and painful joints, heart valve damage, and a rash.

What causes Strep Throat?

The cause of strep throat is due to bacteria, commonly known as group A streptococcus or Streptococcus pyogenes. This type of bacteria is highly endemic.

In point of fact, it can be easily spread by airborne droplets when the infected person sneezes or coughs. In the same way, it can be spread through shared drinks or foods or when you pick up the bacteria from any surface such as a doorknob and then touch your eyes, mouth, or nose.

What are the signs and symptoms of Strep Throat?

  • Fever
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Rash
  • Throat pain
  • A headache
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen and red tonsils, and at times, there are streaks of pus or white patches
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes in the neck area
  • Tiny red spots on the hard or soft palate (This is the spot at the back of the roof of the mouth)
  • Stomach ache and sometimes cases of vomiting, especially for younger children

When do I need to see a doctor?

It is advised to call the doctor immediately if you or your child experiences any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Swelling or pain in the joints, rash, fever, or shortness of breath after a strep infection, even as long as 21 days after infection. Such symptoms can be indicators of rheumatic fever.
  • A sore throat accompanied by a rash
  • A sore throat accompanied by swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • If strep throat has been diagnosed and you do not feel any better even if you’re taking antibiotics for a day or two
  • Difficulty swallowing and problems with breathing
  • When you notice that your urine is cola-colored for over a week. This may be a sign of kidney inflammation.
  • A sore throat that lasts longer than forty-eight hours
  • When you or your child has a fever over 38.3 degrees Celcius and/or if the fever lasts for over forty-eight hours

What are the treatments for Strep Throat?

There are plenty of medications which are available to relieve strep throat symptoms, prevent it from spreading, and to treat it.

Doctors typically prescribe oral antibiotics like:

  • Penicillin. In some cases, this may be given in the form of an injection, especially for those who are suffering from swallowing difficulty or those who vomit.
  • Amoxicillin. This comes from the same family as penicillin; however, it is commonly a preferred option for kids since this comes with a better taste, and there are also chewable tablets available.

On the other hand, there are also symptom relievers:

The doctor may prescribe over-the-counter medications that are intended to reduce fever and bring relief to throat pain such as:

  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol, etc.)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, etc.)

How can I prevent Strep Throat?

To prevent strep infection, it is helpful to consider the following:

  • Cover your mouth.
  • Make proper hand washing a habit.
  • Avoid sharing personal items

Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.

References:

  • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/strep-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20350338
  • https://www.healthline.com/health/strep-throat
  • https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/understanding-strep-throat-basics
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