A Sore Subject: Strep Throat
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A streptococcus bacteria. This bacteria dwells in the nose and back of the throat, but it doesn’t always cause illness. It shows up most commonly in children and young adults. It is normally a very minor infection, but it can cause serious complications if left untreated. Strep throat is highly contagious. Due to where the bacteria lives in the body, it is transmitted through droplets in an infected person’s cough or sneeze.
There are a few symptoms that separate strep throat from other sicknesses that involve sore throats:
- sore throat
- swollen tonsils and lymph nodes
- red spots on the roof of the mouth
- white streaks or patches of pus form in the back of the throat
- stomach pain
- rash (scarlet fever)
Not everyone who contracts strep throat develops all of these symptoms. Strep throat does not cause coughing, runny nose, hoarseness, or pink eye.
To avoid contracting strep, wash your hands, don’t share utensils, and don’t eat or drink after other people. Antibiotics can clear up strep throat and should lessen symptoms in a few days within taking them. Rest and hydration is key to recovering from a bout of strep. If properly treated, the infection only lasts a few days. There are two ways doctors can check if you have strep throat. There is a rapid strep test that involves swabbing the infected person’s throat. The swab is then tested to see if the reason behind your sickness is the group A streptococcus bacteria. A rapid strep test can come back negative, but it is still possible that a person has strep. In this case, a throat culture is usually done by a doctor. Another throat swab is taken and it is monitored for growth of the bacteria. This process, of course, takes longer than a rapid test, but it is more accurate.