Strep Throat: Why Early Treatment Is Key

You get the dreaded sore throat. With it comes that scratchiness and irritation that only seems to get worse when you eat, drink or swallow. And if your voice is hoarse when you speak, you just know something is wrong. You wonder if you have a cold, flu, or something worse. One of those possibly worse conditions is strep throat. It’s less common than the cold or flu, but potentially can lead to other complications, like rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation. Obviously to avoid the complications, you need to catch it early and get it treated. So, aside from a sore throat, what else do you look for with strep throat? When do you get help?

If you’re dealing with that pesky sore throat and you live in Little River, South Carolina, you are in luck. Dr. Rogers Walker of Walker Urgent & Family Care specializes in quality family medical care and can treat strep throat and many other conditions.

What causes strep throat?

Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus, is the bacteria that causes strep throat. This contagious infection spreads through droplets in the air from things like coughing, sneezing, or sharing food and drink with someone suffering from strep throat. The droplets can also end up on everyday objects like doorknobs and other surfaces and spread infection, if you transfer from it to your eyes, nose or mouth. If an infected person doesn’t realize they’re sick, they can potentially and unknowingly infect a crowd of people.

People of any age can get strep throat, but it is more common in children and is most active during the winter and early days of spring.

How do you know you have it?

The early symptoms of strep throat look similar to other upper respiratory illnesses, like a cold or the flu. Sore throats are common in both, along with fever or headaches. However strep throat doesn’t come with coughing, runny nose, or hoarseness, which is common in other viral illnesses.

Symptoms unique to strep throat include tiny red spots in the back of the throat (petechiae — pronounced pi-TEE-kee-eye), swollen tonsils with streaks of white pus, rash, and swollen lymph nodes in the front of your neck. Sore throats start quickly with strep throat, and nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting are more common in children. It may take up to five days for you to become ill after you’ve been infected.

When should you get help?

Since it’s impossible to know if you’re sick until you start showing symptoms, see a doctor as soon as you start showing symptoms. If strep throat is confirmed, let anyone you know you’ve been in contact with recently know, so they can get tested. A basic throat swab can pretty quickly confirm the infection and treatment is a round of antibiotics.

Getting treated early is important. You should inform those with whom you’ve been in contact that they, too, should get tested before they start showing symptoms and to avoid complications if it goes undiagnosed for too long. Left unchecked, you could end up with rheumatic fever, kidney infection, abscess in your tonsils, or sinus and ear infections.

In addition to getting tested when you start feeling symptoms, some basic hygiene tips can help prevent an infection. Wash your hands (using soap and water for at least 20 seconds), use an alcohol-based hand cleanser if you aren’t near a sink, cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze, throw any tissue you use away, and cough or sneeze into your elbow if you don’t have any tissue. The antibiotics will help prevent infecting others, but you should still stay at home until you’ve recovered or at least until you’ve been taking them for 12 hours or more.

Strep throat is a highly contagious infection, but it can be diagnosed and treated quickly. If you think you have strep throat, take proper precautions, and make an appointment today with Dr. Walker and Walker Urgent & Family Care.

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