Pharyngitis, or sore throat, is one of the common reasons for people to visit their physician, as well as a common reason for people to stay home from work. There are a wide variety of reasons for a sore throat, and one possible cause is strep throat.
Although strep throat is more common in children (accounting for roughly 20-30% of sore throats in children), it can affect people of all ages (up to 15% of sore throat cases in adults) and lead to complications such as kidney inflammation, rheumatic fever, and other inflammatory illnesses.
Distinguishing strep throat from other sore throat causes will be important to getting proper help, so let’s examine the causes of strep throat, its common signs, and when you should seek medical help.
If you or your child is dealing with the signs of strep throat and you live in the Little River, South Carolina area, Dr. Rogers Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care can help you with treating it and a wide variety of other chronic or acute illnesses.
Cause of strep throat
The condition we commonly identify as strep throat is caused by the group A Streptococcus (group A strep) bacteria, also known as Streptococcus pyogenes. This bacteria lives in your throat and nose and is highly transmissible by talking, sneezing, coughing, and can even be spread by infected sores on your skin. It can take up to five days for someone infected with strep throat to start showing symptoms.
You can get strep throat from breathing in the bacterial droplets, touching something with the droplets on it and then touching your mouth or nose, drinking from the same glass as someone infected by it, or touching infected sores on the skin of someone with the condition.
Though strep throat is the most common condition from the group A bacteria, in rare cases this bacteria can also cause impetigo, Scarlet fever, cellulitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, rheumatic fever, and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.
Common signs of strep throat
Strep throat shares many common symptoms with other conditions affecting the nose and mouth such as colds, flu, and allergic reactions. But signs that generally indicate this condition as opposed to the others include:
1. Quick onset of a throat pain
Sore throats are common in many other conditions, but this is in many cases one of the first signs of strep throat after the bacteria’s gestation period.
2. Painful swallowing
Whether you’re eating or drinking, the simple act of swallowing becomes a lot more painful.
3. Inflamed or swollen tonsils with tiny white patches or pus
This is visually how the condition presents itself, and it’s part of the reason for the pain. The inflammation can be bad enough that it hurts to even touch your throat.
4. Tiny red spots on the back of your throat
Another visual indication that separates this illness from others, these spots can be located on the roof of your mouth or in the soft part of the palate.
This can also be accompanied by a sudden fever, headache, chills, loss of appetite, and gastrointestinal problems like nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain.
When to seek medical help
Obviously, if you or your child is dealing with symptoms like a sore throat and a collection of signs related to colds, flu or other infections, you may opt to stay home to recover and prevent infection.
However, if you’re dealing with signs like a sore throat lasting longer than two days, swollen lymph glands, a fever, a sore throat with a rash, and issues with breathing or swallowing, strep throat is highly likely, and you’ll need to schedule a sick visit. We offer sick visits for diagnosing conditions like colds, flu, strep throat, sinus infections, and upper respiratory infections.
Infections like strep throat can feel terrible, and if you think you have the signs of the illness, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care today to get swift treatment and feel better faster.