Why does your throat hurt while swallowing anything? Do you feel pain and inflammation in your throat? Does your throat burn while drinking or eating? If any of these conditions are true, you will know that there is obviously something wrong with your throat. However, the real question is- to what extent is your condition bad? Does your condition match with those of strep throat symptoms? If yes, then you need immediate medical attention.
How strep throat symptoms are different from regular sore throat ones? You suffer from strep throat because of a bacterial infection, whereas sore throat is due to viral infection. Strep throat is also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, and the responsible bacteria behind it is Group A Streptococcus or GAS. The bacteria usually invade the area behind your throat, involving the tonsils. However, the infection gives rapid and positive responses to antibiotic treatment.
Sore throat is less painful than strep throat symptoms, but there is a drawback. Since the infection is a viral one (common cold), it will give a negative response to antibiotics. The signs of sore throat are not quite akin to strep throat symptoms. Consult a doctor immediately if you notice the following symptoms-
- The condition lasting more than a week
- When there is reoccurrence of symptoms after a certain period
- Causing unnatural dehydration of your body
- When your voice become croaker with each passing day (usually extending beyond two weeks)
What are the basic pointers for strep throat?
One of the common strep throat symptoms that you will come across initially is feeling a scratchy and swollen throat. If you do not treat strep throat at the right time, it may lead to serious health disorders like-
- Inflammation of kidneys
- Rheumatic fever
Strep throat usually spreads from an infected individual in the form of respiratory droplets. If you come in direct contact with droplets from an infected person’s nose, eyes or mouth, you get strep throat. Sometimes, you may even be a carrier of Group A Streptococcus without exhibiting notable symptoms. In such cases, the disease can spread by touching someone’s skin who has GAS infection.
What are the possible causes of strep throat?
The infecting bacteria for strep throat GAS or Group A Streptococcus also goes by the name of Streptococcus pyogenes. There are few other bacteria causing strep throat as well like fusobacterial agents and non-group A beta hemolytic Streptococci.
When there is any sort of gatherings (like in schools or social meetings), chances of spreading of strep throat increases. Streptococcal pharyngitis is extremely contagious. You may easily catch strep throat if an infected person sneezes or coughs, or shares drinks and food with you. There are chances of picking up the infection when you touch a doorknob or any surface having the bacteria. Sometimes GAS may even contaminate foods, but such a case is quite rare.
Taking consideration of kids with zero strep throat symptoms, almost 12 percent actually have Streptococcus pyogenes in their pharynx. After treating the given percentage of children with antibiotics, around 15 percent of them remain GAS positive. The projected 15 percent of the population are ‘true carriers’ of strep throat infection.
What are the threads of strep throat transmission?
Possible risk factors associated with strep throat symptoms are as follows
- Early age- You will find strep throat symptoms mostly in children.
- Seasonal factors- Strep throat can transmit anytime despite the weather. However, the intensity of spread is mostly during the winter and onset of the spring season.
Group A Streptococcus tend to replicate more when you are in close contact with too many people at a time. Strep throat is a not a life-threatening disease. However, it can eventually lead to detrimental consequences. If you can treat the disease with target specific antibiotics at the right time, then there is nothing to worry.
Some researchers have found a potential connection between PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcus) and streptococcal infections. PANDAS is a rare health condition that is evident in children, suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders. Most common pediatric neuropsychiatric issues are Tic disorders, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Children are more likely to suffer from PANDAS quite suddenly after 4 to 6 weeks of strep infection. The age group prone to PANDAS after streptococcal attack ranges between three years to twelve years old children.
What are the threats of strep throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial contagion that majorly invades your tonsils, skin, sinuses, blood, and middle ear. The various types of inflammatory responses that you get from strep throat infection include:
1. Scarlet fever
The most prominent symptom of scarlet fever is a pinkish scratchy rash (mimicking a sandpaper surface). If you notice this unique symptom, do not hesitate to contact a doctor at once. Scarlet fever is treatable with antibiotics. Some of the evident short-term symptoms of scarlet fever includes-
- Reddish or pinkish sore throat
- Colour of your tongue changes to a strawberry red tone, with a rough texture
- Your elbows, underarms and your groin crinkles become reddish
- Pain in the lower abdomen
Long term problems of scarlet fever includes-
- Ear infections
- Skin infections
- Kidney disorders
- Rheumatic fever- severe inflammation affecting your heart, skin, joints and nervous system
2. Post streptococcal glomerulonephritis
It is a type of glomerulonephritis, occurring due to the invasion of streptococcus bacteria. Glomerulonephritis is associated with the disorder of glomerulus in the kidneys. Therefore, post streptococcal GN is a disorder of kidney functioning. The disorder can happen to any age group, but is typically noticeable in children aging between six to ten years.
Streptococcus bacteria do not directly attack your kidneys, which is why it is a post streptococcal disorder. Post to the invasion of throat and skin, the aftermath of bacterial infection is carried forward to disrupted kidney functioning. Post streptococcal GN involves-
- kidney inflammation
- pain in the joints
- discharge of blood in urine (your urine appears rust colored)
- reduced urine output
- stiffness and swelling in your joints
- edema, swelling of abdomen, feet, hands, face, and ankles
3. Post streptococcal reactive arthritis
It involves severe pain and inflammation in your joints on streptococcal infection of your urinary tract, intestines, or genitals. Possible symptoms of post streptococcal reactive arthritis include-
- Enthesitis- swelling of soft tissues like tendons, ligaments and muscles
- Stiffness and pain in ankles, feet and knees
- Disturbance in the frequency of urination
- Skin problems involving mouth sores and rashes in palms and soles
- Inflammation of eye or conjunctivitis
- Lower back pain
- Swollen fingers and toes
What are the common strep throat symptoms?
The usual strep throat symptoms that can help you differentiate from sore throat signs are:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Aches in different parts of your body
- Tonsils becoming inflamed and reddish, with pus lines and white blotches
- Frequent headaches
- Tendency of puke and nausea, mostly in children
- Small red patches on the back of your mouth (palates near the tonsils)
- Lymph nodes present in your neck become tender and swollen
- Excessive pain in your throat, making it painful to eat
- Skin rashes
If you find your child with all of the above symptoms, do not confirm it for strep throat by yourself. Children are prone to various bacterial and viral diseases; therefore, they may not be strep throat symptoms. Always consult a doctor before confirming an infection to be viral or bacterial, and starting with antibiotic treatment.
How to diagnose strep throat?
There are specific tests that validate whether your child is showing strep throat symptoms or not. Initially your doctor will perform a physical examination, wherein he will check for possible strep throat symptoms. If you meet the criteria of physical strep throat symptoms, the doctor will conduct two distinct tests-
Your doctor will rub a clean sterile swab over the areas of tonsil and back of your throat. The process will not give you any pain, but may slightly cause gagging and you might want to throw up. Your secretion sample present in the swab is cultured in-vitro, to look for bacterial existence. The reports may take more than a day or two.
Rapid antigen test
In this process, the doctor will collect secretion sample from your throat in a similar fashion like in throat culture. Post the swab collection; the doctor will perform a rapid antigen test. By this test, doctors can easily detect the incidence of streptococcus bacteria by studying their interactions with specific antigens. If the antigens present in the swab matches with bacterial presence, you are positive with GAS. For a negative GAS result, your doctor may still go forward with throat culture to detect other bacterial infection.
How to treat strep throat?
There are two basic ways to cure streptococcus pharyngitis- medical and non-medical remedies.
Medical remedies involve antibacterial drugs, antibiotics and symptom relievers. You need the advice and prescription of a doctor in order to buy such medicines. Medications can aid in treating strep throat symptoms quite effectively, and prevent further health complications and transmission.
If your kid tests positive of strep throat infection, the pediatrician will mostly prescribe an antibiotic for oral administration. You need to give it to your child within the first 48 hours of the strep infection. In this way, the antibiotic will work more effectively by decreasing the duration and acuteness of the infection. During the onset of strep infection, antibiotic administration can also reduce potential health risks and disease circulation among others.
On treatment with antibiotics, your kid will start showing signs of improvement within the next two days. If there is no evident recovery in the next 48 hours, consult your doctor immediately.
Twenty-four hours post antibiotic treatment; your child may return to school, if no signs of fever show up. When there is no fever after initial 24 hours of treatment, it means the disease is not contagious anymore. However, do not stop the medication early as it may increase chances of reappearance and other related hitches.
Strep throat is associated with severe pain your throat and tonsils, along with high fever. To relieve these basic problems, doctors will give you acetaminophen like Tylenol and ibuprofen (mostly Motrin B and Advil). Be cautious while giving aspirins to kids, especially when your kid has just recovered from flu or chicken pox.
What are the home remedies for strep throat?
In case you are not comfortable taking antibiotics alone, there are always some age-old home remedies to treat diseases naturally. Alongside your antibiotic administration, try out these amazing home remedial measures to alleviate strep throat.
Always get enough rest
Did you know that proper sleep could help in relieving and fighting infections? When you have strep throat, prefer working from home than going out. In this way, you can lessen spreading chances and recover quicker than usual. If your child has fever from strep throat, do not let him go to school unless the body temperature normalizes. Monitor your child’s fever after 24 hours of antibiotic exposure.
Drink sufficient water throughout the day
Proper hydration of body is extremely essential when you are suffering from any infection. Drinking enough water will keep your sore throat moist and ease your swallowing.
Practice gargling with lukewarm water
One of the best methods to relieve strep throat is gargling. Add ¼ teaspoon of table salt to 237 mL of lukewarm water and gargle.
Eat foods that are easy to swallow
No need to compromise with your diet if you have strep throat. You can eat your regular food during throat infection with a little trick. Mash potatoes before eating to ease your consumption. Go for soft-boiled eggs, soups, soft fruits, cooked cereals, sherbets, juices, and frozen yogurt. Avoid eating spicy foods.
What to do if throat pain persists?
Strep throat symptoms may persist if there are other complications involved like-
- Acid reflux
- Throat tumors
See if the problems are vanishing within 3-4 days. Consult your doctor to check whether your strep throat treatment is going right.