You were fine at lunch time but there was a tickle in your throat at bedtime. The next morning you wake up with a sore throat, and it hurts to swallow. How can you tell if your sore throat is actually strep throat?
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection in the throat that causes pain and discomfort. If left untreated, strep throat may cause more serious complications.
The infection is caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes – or group A streptococcus. It’s highly contagious and may spread through the air or through contaminated surfaces.
Strep throat symptoms
The symptoms of strep throat may include:
- pain when swallowing
- throat pain
- swelling of the tonsils
- body aches
- swelling in the lymph glands
- tender neck glands
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- red or white patches or streaks at the back of the roof of the mouth
While these are all common symptoms of strep throat, having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you or your child has strep throat. A person can also carry strep throat without showing any symptoms.
A cough, runny nose, and hoarseness are not typical symptoms of strep throat.
Strep throat usually affects children
Anyone can get strep throat, but it’s not very common in adults. Strep throat is most common among children between the ages of 5 and 15.
Is it a sore throat or is it strep throat?
Most sore throats are not strep throat. The best way to tell if you or your child has strep throat is to go to the doctor and test for strep throat.
Your doctor will get a swab sample from the inside of your mouth and run a test to detect bacteria. Typically a rapid antigen test is all you need, and the test results come back in a matter of minutes. Your doctor may do a throat culture, however, which can take a couple of days to produce results.
Treating strep throat
Antibiotic treatment is the most effective way of treating strep throat. Antibiotics help alleviate the symptoms, reduce the risk of complications, and increase the rate of recovering from strep throat. They also help prevent the spread of infection. Children often begin feeling better within a day or two of taking antibiotics for strep throat.
A sore throat is typically caused by a virus rather than a bacterial infection. You shouldn’t treat every sore throat with antibiotics. In fact, your shouldn’t take antibiotics unless they are prescribed to you by your doctor.
Follow the instructions your doctor gives your regarding taking antibiotics. Don’t stop taking antibiotics just because you start feeling better. If your doctor tells you take antibiotics for 10 days, take them for 10 days even if you start feeling better on day 3.
MANA Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic
Contact a doctor if you suspect that you or your child have strep throat. MANA Urgent Care Walk-in Clinic offers the convenience of a walk-in clinic – urgent health care before or after work, or on the weekends – and is staffed by MANA physicians.