What is Strep Infection?
Strep throat sufferers know that this rapidly developing illness can be both painful and frustrating to treat. Usually accompanied by sore throat, this infection can be difficult to discern from common viral afflictions, though strep throat symptoms are very similar. You may start out feeling like you’ve developed a minor cough or cold, but it can quickly develop into a serious illness. Strep (streptococcal pharyngitis), is actually a bacterial infection, and is the most common throat infection. While children commonly contract this illness, adults can be susceptible as well. Because of the risks of leaving this infection untreated, (Left untreated, strep throat or streptococcal pharyngitis can cause damage to the heart), treatment is very important. Once diagnosis is made, patients must be careful since strep throat is contagious.
The most common strep throat symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, sore throat, and red or irritated throat. Patients may also experience loss of appetite, trouble swallowing, and swollen lymph nodes.
Strep Throat Symptoms and Treatments
Strep throat, unlike inflammation, is caused by a virus. Treatment for strep throat is easy, straightforward, and can provide near immediate relief. Because this illness is caused by bacteria, it can be treated with antibiotics. These antibiotics are not available over the counter and will need to be prescribed to you by a doctor. For this reason, it is important to see the doctor right away if you think that there is a chance you may have contracted a strep infection like strep throat.
First, a doctor will need to complete a simple test to ensure that you are indeed suffering from strep throat. The doctor will take a throat swab and grow cultures from it. After 1-2 days, the doctor should be able to diagnose whether or not strep throat is the issue.
At this time, patients with strep throat symptoms are usually treated with a course of antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin. Antibiotics should be taken for about ten days, with relief occurring after 2-3 days. Follow your doctors directions carefully when taking these medications for strep throat.
Is Strep Throat Contagious?
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with strep, one of your first questions might be, “is Strep throat contagious? In a word: Yes. In fact, it’s quite contagious. Most doctors recommend limited contact with uninfected persons for AT LEAST 24 hours after treatment begins. Patients are also advised to dispose of their toothbrush and buy a new one after a day of treatment. The streptococcus bacteria can remain active for some time in the dense wet bristles of the toothbrush. Some folks carry the bacteria without being aware. These carriers can infect those around them without even knowing it.
Since strep throat is contagious, it’s a good idea to practice good hand washing practice and avoid close contact with others until treatment has had a chance to work. Yes, son, you get to stay home from school!
In the meantime, there are some steps you can take on your own to ease the painful symptoms of strep throat. Gargling with salt water, staying hydrated with both warm and cool liquids, and taking an over the counter pain relief medication can all help combat the sore throat of streptococcal pharyngitis.