As we approach the end of the year and colder weather arrives, many upper respiratory illnesses will become more prevalent, such as the common cold, influenza, and strep throat. Unlike most of the others, however, strep throat is caused by a specific bacteria (group A streptococcus) that can lead to other conditions, like scarlet fever, impetigo, and rheumatic fever.
The noninvasive version of this condition infects millions annually, but sadly it shares symptoms similar to other respiratory conditions. Looking for the symptoms unique to strep throat is necessary to make sure you have it and not something else. Let's look at what strep throat is, what symptoms you should look for, and how it’s treated.
If you live in the Little River, South Carolina area and you think you may have strep throat, Dr. Rogers Walker and the staff at Walker Urgent & Family Care can help. We take a compassionate approach to helping our patients with a variety of conditions with years of experience and cutting-edge technology.
What is strep throat?
This is a bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils and is easy to spread, especially in enclosed environments. Because sore throats are common indications of an upper respiratory virus, the beginnings of a strep throat infection can seem similar to colds and flu. In fact, you may also get strep throat through contact with someone who has the condition, whether by breathing in infected respiratory droplets, touching something with said droplets on it, or eating and drinking from the same materials as someone infected.
The streptococcus bacteria responsible for strep throat can be an invasive (meaning germs will spread into areas of the body normally free of them, which can be serious) or noninvasive infection, which affects how severe a condition will likely be. Strep throat is the most common noninvasive infection, but this form of the bacteria may also cause impetigo and in more serious rare cases post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis and acute rheumatic fever.
For what four signs should you be looking?
This sudden, painful illness frequently starts with these symptoms:
- Red and swollen tonsils: Your tonsils are often the target of this infection, which will also be accompanied by white patches or pus.
- Tiny red spots: The soft or hard palate at the roof of the back of your mouth will be lined with small red spots if you have this condition.
- Swollen lymph nodes: The lymph nodes in your neck will become swollen and tender when dealing with this condition.
- Painful swallowing: Because of how suddenly the infection sets in, you will also experience pain when swallowing anything.
Other signs may include fever, headache, rash, nausea, vomiting, and body aches. If you experience fever, rash, problems breathing or swallowing, or a sore throat that lasts longer than two days, seek immediate medical attention.
How can it be treated?
Despite the pain and discomfort you may feel, this is a mild bacterial infection that is easily treatable when caught as soon as possible. Antibiotics are the common treatment, using things like penicillin and amoxicillin in either pill or injectable form. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to manage discomfort, and drinking warm soothing liquids like tea will help ease pain while dealing with the infection. With these treatments, your strep throat should clear up in as little as 10 days.
Knowing the difference between strep throat and other upper respiratory illnesses can make treatment much easier to manage. If you have a sore throat and may be showing the other signs of this infection, make an appointment with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care today to get better.