A woman is at a doctors appointment to get her soar throat checked out.
Strep throat is an infection caused by bacteria living in the body.

What Is Strep Throat?

As a common condition of childhood, many people think that they understand what strep throat is and how it forms. After all, numerous visits to the pedestrian are made due to strep throat every year.

Do you know anything about the disease? Do you know how dangerous it could be if left untreated, and how the condition starts?

Getting the best information about a condition gives you the knowledge to manage it. Here’s how to handle this infection.

What You Need to Know About Strep Throat

Strep throat is an infection caused by bacteria living in the body. The specific type of bacteria is called A streptococcus - also known as group A strep.

With strep throat, the tonsils become infected in addition to the throat, resulting in pain and discomfort. The discomfort will be especially bad when someone with the infection attempts to eat or swallow.

Although there are some telltale signs of strep throat, no one can diagnose the condition just by looking. To achieve a proper assessment of the situation, a medical professional will use a long stick to swab the back of the throat to gather a sample.

Called a strep test, these samples are tested to detect the presence of A streptococcus. There are rapid and delayed versions of the test with the rapid being faster but carrying a lower accuracy.

Strep Throat Signs and Symptoms

Compared to other infections, strep throat is mild, but it still has the power to create a range of unwanted effects. The signs and symptoms of strep throat may include:

  • Fever
  • A sore throat that develops very quickly
  • Pain when swallowing food, drink, or saliva
  • Tonsils that appear red and swollen
  • White patches or pus on the back of the throat or roof of the mouth
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen or sore lymph nodes on the neck

In addition to these common symptoms of strep throat, a person could experience:

  • Headaches
  • Pains in the stomach
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A rash called scarlet fever – also referred to as scarlatina

Although anyone can suffer these symptoms, however, nausea and vomiting are more common in children than adults.

In rare cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body and lead to:

  • Pockets of pus around the tonsils called abscesses
  • Sinus infections
  • Eat infections
  • A heart condition called rheumatic fever
  • A kidney disease called post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis

Seeking medical treatment quickly for symptoms of strep throat can manage the condition and resolve the infection rapidly.

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Strep Bacteria or a Virus?

Although many people think of sore throats are synonymous with strep throat, many times sore throats are not caused by the strep bacteria at all. In fact, they are caused by viruses.

This confusion is precisely why getting a strep test from a doctor is essential. Without an accurate diagnosis, time and energy might be wasted on ineffective treatments.

Some symptoms of a viral sore throat will overlap with strep, but there will be differences. Symptoms linked to a viral sore throat include:

  • A cough
  • A runny or stuffy nose
  • Voice changes that make the voice sound hoarse, strained, or raspy
  • Pink eye

These symptoms may require no treatment or a different set of medical interventions than when someone has strep.

Causes of Strep Throat

By now you know a bacterial infection in the body causes strep throat, but how does a person acquire the bacteria? What
gets somebody sick?

Strep throat is very contagious and is passed readily from person to person. The strep bacteria thrive in the nose and throat, which makes their transportation out into the environment quite easy.

Anytime a person with the bacteria coughs or sneezes, droplets containing the bacteria are launched forth into the room to infect others. You can get strep by:

  • Breathing in the droplets of bacteria
  • Touching a surface covered with droplets and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Sharing a glass or eating utensils with an infected person
  • Touching open sores on the skin of an infected person

Strep Treatment and Prevention

Strep can spread fast, but treatments are available and effective. For strep, antibiotics are reliable medications to:

  • Shorten the duration of the illness
  • Reduce symptom intensity
  • Stop the spread to others
  • Lower the risk of more serious issues

Taking preventative measures is another great way to stop the spread of strep and protect others you love. To prevent the strep:

  • Always cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Washing your dishes and utensils are used
  • Stay away from others when infected or contagious

This infection can be a major inconvenience for people, but luckily, with the available testing and medical interventions, doctors can minimize the condition. Before you know it, the symptoms will resolve, you’ll be back to your normal self again.