HIV testing
August 1, 2017
Influenza
August 1, 2017

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can make your throat feel sore and scratchy. If untreated, strep throat can cause complications, such as kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever which can lead to painful and inflamed joints, a specific type of rash or heart valve damage.

What causes Strep Throat?

The cause of strep throat is bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus.

Streptococcal bacteria are highly contagious. They can spread through airborne droplets when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes, or through shared food or drinks. You can also pick up the bacteria from a doorknob or other surface and transfer them to your nose, mouth or eyes.

What are the risk factors ?

Several factors can increase your risk of strep throat infection:

Young age. Strep throat occurs most commonly in children.

Time of year. Although strep throat can occur anytime, it tends to circulate in late fall and early spring. Strep bacteria flourish wherever groups of people are in close contact.

What are the symptoms of Strep Throat ?

Signs and symptoms of strep throat can include:

  • Throat pain that usually comes on quickly
  • Painful swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots on the area at the back of the roof of the mouth (soft or hard palate)
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children
  • Body aches

Do I need a test for diagnosis of Strep Throat ?

It’s possible for you or your child to have many of these signs and symptoms but not have strep throat. The cause of these signs and symptoms could be a viral infection or some other illness. That’s why your doctor generally tests specifically for strep throat.

It’s also possible for you to be exposed to a person who carries strep but shows no symptoms.

How is Strep Throat diagnosed ?

We will conduct a physical exam, look for signs and symptoms of strep throat, and probably order one or more of the following tests:

Molecular strep test : This test can detect strep bacteria in minutes by a molecular analysis.  This test is performed in the office with results available in just 15 minutes. If the test is negative but your doctor still suspects strep, she might do a throat culture.

Throat culture : A sterile swab is rubbed over the back of the throat and tonsils to get a sample of the secretions. The sample is then cultured in a laboratory for the presence of bacteria, but results can take as long as two days.

When do I need to see a doctor ?

Call your doctor if you have any of these signs and symptoms:

  • A sore throat accompanied by tender, swollen lymph glands
  • A sore throat that lasts longer than 48 hours
  • A fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C) in older children, or fever lasting longer than 48 hours
  • A sore throat accompanied by a rash
  • Problems breathing or swallowing

If strep has been diagnosed, a lack of improvement after taking antibiotics for 48 hours

What are the complications of Strep Throat ?

Although strep throat isn’t dangerous, it can lead to serious complications. Antibiotic treatment reduces the risk.

Spread of infection: Strep bacteria may spread, causing infection in:

  • Tonsils
  • Sinuses
  • Skin
  • Blood
  • Middle ear

Inflammatory reactions : Strep infection may lead to inflammatory illnesses, including:

  • Scarlet fever, a streptococcal infection characterized by a prominent rash
  • Inflammation of the kidney (poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis)
  • Rheumatic fever, a serious inflammatory condition that can affect the heart, joints, nervous system and skin

How is Strep Throat treated ?

Antibiotics : If you have strep throat, the doctor will likely prescribe an oral antibiotic. If taken within 48 hours of the onset of the illness, antibiotics reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, as well as the risk of complications and the likelihood that infection will spread to others.

To relieve throat pain and reduce fever, try over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.