What is strep throat?
Strep throat is an infection caused by the bacteria Group A Streptococcus that causes a scratchy, sore throat.
How is group A strep bacteria spread?
Group A strep bacteria spreads through respiratory droplets when somebody coughs or sneezes. It can also spread when somebody shares cups or eating utensils. Although it is unlikely, it can be spread if somebody touches an infected surface and then touches their eyes, nose, mouth, or ears.
Who is at risk for strep throat?
Strep throat can happen in people of all ages, although it is more common in children. It is more common in late fall or early spring.
What are the symptoms of strep throat?
Symptoms of strep throat include:
- Sore throat that comes on quickly
- Pain when swallowing
- Red/swollen tonsils
- White streaks on tonsils and back of throat
- Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Nausea and/or vomiting, especially in children
- Muscle aches
What complications are associated with strep throat?
Strep bacteria can spread to the tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, or ears. It can also lead to other illnesses such as scarlet fever, inflammation of the kidneys, and rheumatic fever.
How is strep throat diagnosed?
A doctor will first perform a physical exam to search for signs of strep throat. A doctor may also take a rapid antigen test where they search for antigens in the throat using a throat sample. A doctor may also take a throat culture where they swab the back of the throat to search for bacteria.
How is strep throat treated?
If you have strep throat, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic. The antibiotic is most effective when taken within 48 hours of initial symptoms. It is important to finish the medication completely. If the medication is taken early, you should be better within a day or two. Pain relievers such as Tylenol or Advil can be taken to relieve pain and reduce fever.
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