Strep throat

Chances are that all of us, at one time or another, have suffered from the common malady strep throat. But it’s simple for us to think that, just because we are sick and our main symptom is a sore throat, that we have strep throat, when often times this is not the case. For example, a sore throat can be a symptom of sinusitis or even the common cold, and does not always have to denote strep throat. So while strep throat is a common malady, and one that should be guarded against and treated with antibiotics so that it does not spread and make us sicker, it is not always the culprit when we are suffering from a sore, red or inflamed throat.

“Strep” throat is actually short for streptococcal sore throat, a type of streptococcal infection that affects the throat, and sometimes even the tonsils. It usually appears in sufferers starting with an extremely sore throat which can make talking and swallowing a painful ordeal. Because strep throat is an infection, it should be treated to prevent it from worsening.

So how do you know if you have sore throat? The only way to know for sure is to go to the doctor and get tested, but here are some signs and symptoms you should be aware of if you suspect that you or someone in your family has strep throat. Signs and symptoms include tonsils that are inflamed or feature white spots, difficult talking, difficulty swallowing, a tender neck or throat area, fever, headache, bad breath, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, rash, hives, chills, loss of appetite, ear pain, peeling of skin on the hands and feet, and a general feeling of malaise. If you think those symptoms sound terrible, it is because they are. Strep throat, while common, is no laughing matter and can escalate quickly if not treated. Further, strep throat can actually travel and infect another area of the body, causing such conditions as sinusitis, vaginitis or impetigo.

On the other hand, if you find yourself coughing and sneezing, producing phlegm from the nose and throat, and suffering from red irritated eyes and fever along with your sore throat, you are probably suffering from a virus rather than a strep throat infection. Nonetheless, if you feel bad, visit the doctor, who can test you for strep using what is called a rapid strep test (aka rapid antigen detection testing (RADT)) or a throat culture. If you test positive, you will be treated with antibiotics to kill the infection. If you test negative, your doctor will likely treat you for cold symptoms. In rare cases, people are carriers of strep throat, meaning that they have strep throat chronically but often do not show any symptoms. It is unwise to treat those people with throat cultures.

If you or someone in your family is suffering from strep throat, keep in mind that the condition is very contagious. Direct, close contact with an infected person can infect others, so try to isolate yourself, avoid sharing food or drink with others, and always wash your hands if you are suffering from strep throat. Also be wary that strep throat can persist for up to 15 days, so even after you feel better, you should continue to practice hygienic practices.

Strep throat should be treated with antibiotics, but it can also be treated with over the counter drugs such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relive any throat pain and reduce fever. If you feel that you are suffering from strep throat, see your doctor immediately to help reduce the duration of the symptoms and the pain you feel while you are recovering.

Last updated on Sep 26th, 2010 and filed under Other Conditions & Diseases. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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