Is it a sore throat or a strep throat infection?
Strep throat is a medical condition associated with bacteria that infect the throat and tonsils. The infection is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. This group of bacteria is usually spread through contact with droplets of an infected person. The bacteria are extremely contagious and can spread around in the air, through a cough or a sneeze, and of course, through physical contact. Even indirect contact by drinking from an infected person’s glass or eating from their plate could spread the infection.
It is also possible to get strep throat from contact with sores from group A strep skin infections. Even though strep throat can affect anyone from children to adults, it is especially common among children from the ages of 5 to 15 years old.
Does strep throat have unique symptoms?
Some of the common strep throat symptoms include:
- Red and swollen tonsils, accompanied by white patches or streaks of pus
- Tiny, red spots (petechiae) on the upper part of the mouth
- Nausea or vomiting
- Swollen lymph nodes in front of the neck
- Sandpaper-like rash
Other symptoms include:
- A sore throat that quickly progresses and can cause severe pain when swallowing
- A fever of 101 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children
- Body aches
- Loss of appetite
What are the risk factors associated with the strep throat infection?
There are several factors that can increase the risk of acquiring a strep throat infection. They include:
- Age - Strep throat occurs most commonly in young children, whose immunity levels are still developing. Hence, they are at high risk of contracting the infection from the carriers.
- Season - Although strep throat can occur anytime, it tends to circulate during late fall and early spring.
- Environment - The bacterium thrives when people come in close contact with those already affected by the disease. Social environments including schools, daycares, and gatherings are examples of such places.
- Personal Contact - A strep throat infection can be easily passed from one person to another through contact with infected saliva or nasal secretions.
Detecting a Strep Throat
Since most symptoms are common in different infections, the doctor may examine the patient’s throat to look for significant signs of swelling or inflammation. A quick test may sometimes be done wherein healthcare providers take a swab from the affected region of the throat to check for any bacteria.
However, even if the test is negative and the symptoms continue, the swab test may need to be cultured for 2-3 days to check for the growth of any bacteria, and the type of bacteria present.
Treating Strep Throat Through Home Remedies
At the onset of discomfort in the throat, a few natural remedies are available to treat the pain. However, none of these remedies can suppress bacterial growth. They can only alleviate the symptoms. Therefore, a medical advice would be necessary for proper treatment.
What is it not?
It's not just a sore throat. Strep throat is caused by a bacterium and not all symptoms of a sore throat are necessarily strep throat infections. It is also not a regular cold episode, which is associated with clinical symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, and having a runny or congested nose.
Some Ways to Reduce Throat Inflammation
Cayenne is a spice with a pungent flavor and contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It contains a compound called capsaicin, which encourages blood circulation and helps in treating inflammation. Cayenne helps the system to flush out toxins and infectious agents out of the body.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains agents that help the body in its healing process. This substance helps in eliminating the infection through a flushing system, thereby filtering unwanted toxins. Additionally, apple cider vinegar contains essential vitamins and minerals that can help boost the immune system.
Garlic is well-known for its inflammation-reducing and antibacterial properties. It contains high amounts of sulfur that helps in relieving symptoms such as inflammation and also in blood purification. Garlic contains nutrients such as manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and selenium, which support the body’s recovery from illnesses.
4. Vitamin Supplements
To help cope with sickness, the body requires some extra vitamin support to enhance the healing and recovery process.
- Vitamin C - This vitamin should be often consumed, especially when the body is fighting infections.
- Zinc - This is an important mineral required by the body to fight illnesses.
- Rest - This is one of the main factors that can help speed up the recovery process. The more you rest, the faster the recovery process is.
- Hydration - This is extremely important as the body takes longer to heal if not well-hydrated. Unfortunately, with a sore throat, it can be painful to swallow water. Gargling with some warm salt water is the most effective remedy to ease the pain. Drinking fluids like hot black, green, or herbal teas with natural sweeteners such as honey, broths, and soups made fresh at home are great ways to soothe the painful throat and keep up the hydration requirements of the body.
- Healing Baths or Warm Salt Water Baths - These are highly recommended to help the body recover well from the illness. Add a cup of Epsom salt or baking soda to a warm water tub for 20 minutes and soak your body. These baths help in alkalizing and soothing the body for a faster recovery process.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that could get serious when ignored. When unattended for a long time, it can develop into a serious rheumatic fever. In the case of patients suffering from severe symptoms, it is best to stay indoors to help the body to recuperate faster and to avoid spreading the infection to others.
Most sore throats have a viral origin and can be cured without taking antibiotics. Only bacterial sore throats need prescribed antibiotics. The doctor usually prescribes antibiotics after the strep test has come out positive or after the doctor assesses that the symptoms seem to be caused by a bacterial infection.
Antibiotics are taken to prevent rare but more serious health problems such as rheumatic fever. Penicillin or amoxicillin drugs are first recommended to curb the infection. Certain antibiotics may also work against the strep bacteria. An antibiotic course of 10 days or the prescribed duration must be taken to completion, even if the symptoms seem to have subsided.
Standard Procedure to Help Reduce the Pain
- Drink warm liquids, such as lemon tea or tea with honey.
- Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup of water).
Avoid Spreading the Infection
- Keep anyone with the symptoms away from other people, especially children.
- Teach children to wash their hands regularly.
- The type of bacteria that causes strep throat can be spread for a gestation of three weeks. Therefore, remember to follow the simple procedures for about three weeks.
- Do not stop the antibiotic treatment even if the symptoms have disappeared. They usually are still latent and can resurface later on.
- Use handkerchiefs and facial tissues while coughing and sneezing to prevent the infection to spread.
Can strep throat become serious?
Strep throat, if left untreated, can get serious and can affect other parts of the body. Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, it needs to be treated through the use of appropriate antibiotics. Bacteria can eventually spread to the ears, sinuses, or tonsils resulting in other medical issues.
In some cases, serious conditions such as rheumatic fever could occur due to untreated strep throat infections. An early diagnosis and treatment can go a long way in managing the disease and preventing complications from arising.
Other medical complications may also include:
- Possible kidney disease
- Guttate psoriasis (characterized by small, red, and scaly spots that appear on the arms, legs, and middle body)
- Abscess around the tonsils
- Rheumatic fever
- Scarlet fever