General Health

Everything to Know About Strep Throat: Treatment, Causes and Symptoms

With strep throat treatment, home remedies alone can’t promise a full recovery

Antibiotics are crucial to killing the infection completely and bypassing medical care is unwise

Avoid smoking as it increases the chances of throat infections

January 21st, 2021
3 mins read

When you get the cold or come down with the flu, the first symptom that most usually experience is a sore throat. This is when you will usually find it hard to swallow or that your throat abnormally scratchy or tender. A sore throat is quite a common symptom for several ailments but is also indicative of an infection that is contagious and potentially severe known as strep throat. Such sickness can affect children and grown-ups equally, with the strep throat symptoms in adults being similar to those experienced by children. As such, strep throat treatment may be similar if you’ve caught it from your child, but it can vary based on severity.

Given the severity of this infection, it is important to understand the importance of timely medical care. With strep throat treatment, home remedies alone can’t promise a full recovery and you run the risk of a relapse. This increases the chances of complications and when left unchecked, strep throat can even result in the development of rheumatic fever. To avoid this and know all about the different strep throat symptoms, causes, treatment options, and prevention practices, read on.

Strep throat causes

Bacteria called streptococcus pyogenes are responsible for causing a strep throat infection. This can happen if the bacteria come in contact with you or if you touch your eyes, mouth, or nose after coming into contact with an infected person. It is important to be careful when around those with signs of infection as even sharing a drink can be a problem. Further, it is vital to note that strep throat is highly contagious, in that you can get infected by simply being around an infected person. When they cough or sneeze the bacteria travel through small airborne droplets, which could be inhaled directly or contaminate objects nearby.

Additionally, it is important to note the risk factors of developing a strep throat infection. This goes a long way with preventive care and can help you with getting an early diagnosis. Typically, children are at a higher risk of getting this infection. Aside from children, the infection also occurs seasonally. This is generally during the winter or in the early months of spring, as the bacteria thrive in spaces with people in close contact.

Strep throat symptoms

When it comes to strep throat symptoms, adults and children usually exhibit a range of indicators. These show up after about 2 to 5 days of exposure to the bacteria and are quite common with those of other infections. This is why it is important to get tested or diagnosed for a strep throat infection.

To know if you need to get diagnosed, here are symptoms to look out for.

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Throat pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Painful swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • White patches
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth

These symptoms are a sign of possible infection and should be reason enough to see a doctor. In rare cases, you could catch a strep throat infection from someone without symptoms whatsoever. This is when you need to be especially aware of the symptoms, to ensure that you don’t label the disease as a common cold. To avoid this, here’s a checklist you can go by to determine when you need to see a doctor.

  • If you have a sore throat with a rash
  • If your lymph glands are tender and your throat is sore
  • If you have a fever
  • If you have problems with swallowing or breathing
  • If your sore throat lasts longer than 2 days

Conversely, some symptoms that suggest that you do not have strep throat but rather an infection caused by a virus are:

  • Cough
  • Hoarseness
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis

Strep throat complications

Strep throat treatment is important mainly because it protects against a wide range of complications. These usually occur when the infection is left unchecked or isn’t dealt with completely. When left untreated, it can spread to other regions of the body, causing infection in the following areas:

  • Skin
  • Blood
  • Tonsils
  • Sinuses
  • Middle ear

In such cases, inflammatory conditions can occur, which include:

  • Rheumatic fever
  • Strep throat joint pain
  • Poststreptococcal reactive arthritis
  • Scarlet fever
  • Poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis
  • Mastoiditis
  • Peritonsillar abscess
  • Guttate psoriasis

These complications can be serious and cause lasting damage to your body. Avoiding this is a priority at all costs. As a matter of fact, there is a possible link between a rare medical condition and strep infection. It is called paediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with group A streptococci (PANDAS). This happens in children and those affected by it experience neuropsychiatric conditions like tic disorders or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Additional Read: Home Remedies of Sore Throat

Strep throat diagnosis

Diagnosing strep throat is a key part of treatment and you should ensure that you seek medical care at the first signs. In all cases, the doctor will start with a physical examination, checking the throat and nose for signs. With the initial steps of examination completed, the doctor will then prescribe a few tests to confirm the diagnosis. The tests usually prescribed are as follows.

  • Rapid DNA test
  • Rapid antigen test
  • Throat culture

The throat culture is the one that may be the most trying as doctors will insert a swab toward the back of the throat to collect a sample to test. While this procedure isn’t painful, you may feel a tickle or the sensation of gagging. A swab sample is also required for a rapid antigen test, which will provide a conclusive diagnosis within minutes.

Strep throat treatment options

Strep throat should go away on its own in 3 to 7 days. Another way to go about strep throat treatment is to take antibiotics. However, it is important to note that you should never self-administer any antibiotics you may have around unless they are prescribed by a doctor. This is because antibiotics only work on bacterial infections and you need a conclusive diagnosis to prove this. Another course of treatment is a tonsillectomy, which is the surgical removal of the tonsils. This is generally done if the infected person has frequent bouts of tonsillitis, which is a known complication of strep throat.

Apart from the medical treatment options, there are a few home remedies too. In fact, with strep throat treatment, natural remedies are important to managing the symptoms effectively. Here are a few reliable home remedies to try.

  • Consume warm drinks
  • Avoid smoking
  • Gargle mouthwash to alleviate the pain in the throat
  • Steer clear of overly hot food or drink
  • Use a cool-mist humidifier
  • Take ibuprofen to help with the pain

Most of the above-mentioned home remedies will serve the purpose of helping alleviate or manage the symptoms of strep throat. However, if these do not help, there is another practice you can try, but its medical benefits are a bit controversial. This is regarding the use of essential oils and it is believed that these oils can help kill the bacteria and keep inflammation in check. Some studies also suggest that essential oils may work better than over-the-counter medication. So, if this is a route you choose to go with, here are a few oils that are known to help.

  • Thyme
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Tea tree
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lemon
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Wild carrot, eucalyptus, and rosemary blend

When using the oils, it is not ideal to ingest these directly. Rather, the best way to use them is to dilute with water and add to a bath or use a diffuser to inhale it. To avoid any possible problems, speak to a specialist about essential oils and how to best use them to help with your symptoms.

Strep throat prevention practices

Prevention is better than cure and this is true for this infection too. To prevent getting a strep throat infection, try these things.

  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Do not share any personal items or drinks
  • Eat a balanced diet to keep the immune system healthy
  • Avoid smoking as it increases the chances of throat infections
  • Exercise regularly to boost the immune system

When dealing with strep throat symptoms, adults need to ensure that the infected get the complete course of treatment. Antibiotics are crucial to killing the infection completely and bypassing medical care is unwise. You could develop the above-mentioned complications or even spread them to your loved ones. Moreover, it is important to actively try to prevent getting the infection, which means having knowledge of the risk factors and how to stay safe. However, this isn’t always possible, and this is why it pays to have a reliable and trusted physician. To find such specialists easily, be sure to use the Bajaj Finserv Health App.

This digital provision is loaded with telemedicine provisions that enable you to access and avail of quality healthcare. With the smart doctor search feature, you can find the best doctors in your area and also book appointments at their clinics completely online. In addition to this, the app allows you to consult doctors virtually, over the video, call or chat. Further, the app allows you access to a health library that you can use to learn more about health conditions and how to prevent further complications. All of these perks make healthcare a breeze and you can start enjoying the benefits right away. To start, download the app for free on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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