What is a strep throat?
Strep throats are a type of bacterial sore throat caused by Streptococcus pyrogene bacteria, a type of Group A streptococci.
Strep throats are common in children aged five to fifteen years, but rare in children under the age of three.
What are the symptoms of a strep throat?
Generally, Strep sore throats tend to be very painful and symptoms persist for a lot longer than sore throats due to a virus or another cause. Swallowing may be particularly difficult.
Other symptoms that are more likely to occur with a Strep throat include:
- A very red and swollen-looking throat and tonsils; sometimes streaks of pus or red spots on the roof of the mouth are visible
- Fever and Chills
- Swollen and tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
- Vomiting or nausea (mostly in children)
Some people are susceptible to the toxins (poisons) produced by the S. pyrogenes bacteria, and develop a bright red rash that feels like sandpaper to the touch.
A rash caused by S. pyrogenes bacteria is known as Scarlet Fever (also called scarlatina).
Scarlet fever is more likely to develop in children over the age of three at preschool or people exposed to overcrowded environments such as boarding schools or military camps.
Rheumatic fever can also develop following a Strep throat infection or scarlet fever.
Rheumatic fever has the potential to cause life-long cardiac problems if not treated promptly or properly and it can also affect the joints, skin, and the brain.
Symptoms of rheumatic fever include:
- Abdominal pain
- Chest pain or shortness of breath
- Joint swelling, pain, redness, or warmth
- Nose bleeds
- A rash on the upper part of the arms or legs (usually ring-shaped or snake-like
- Skin nodules or lumps
- In young children, unusual crying or laughing or quick jerky movements of the face, hands, or feet
How is a strep throat diagnosed?
See your doctor if you have had a sore throat for longer than two days or it is very painful or you can see white patches or pus on the back of your throat. Other reasons to see your doctor include a fine sandpaper-like pink rash on your skin or difficulty breathing or swallowing.
Your doctor will examine your neck and lymph nodes and may take a swab of your throat if Strep throat is suspected.
How is a strep throat treated?
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics, such as penicillin or amoxicillin to treat your Strep throat. It is important to take these as prescribed and finish the course of treatment.
Other remedies that can help relieve the symptoms of a sore throat include:
- Acetaminophen or ibuprofen to relieve pain
- Lemon and honey warm drinks, tea
- Cool liquids or iceblocks to help numb the throat
- Sucking throat lozenges
- Apple cider vinegar
- Marshmallow root
- Slippery elm