Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by streptococcal bacteria of Group A. it is a non-invasive infection, meaning it’s not very severe, but should not be ignored because it may lead to further complications. Strep throat is easily recognized from its symptoms.
The initial symptoms of strep throat and also the most telling are a sore throat and fever. Consider your own whereabouts prior to these symptoms to establish if there is a chance you got the infection from someone. These symptoms come suddenly, along with other indicators:
- whitish or yellowish pus areas on the throat and tonsils
- muscle pain
- nausea and vomiting
- swollen lymph nodes in the neck
Symptoms of strep throat infection begin to show two to five days from the time of infection, and most of these will become evident suddenly. Most of the symptoms are also similar to those of the flu virus, and telling the two apart requires a keener look. For example, the flu is often accompanied by coughing or sneezing, but not strep throat. In fact, if your child is either sneezing or coughing, you can almost rule out the possibility of a strep throat.
Most doctors can recognize strep throat just from its symptoms, and prescribe the appropriate medication. However, symptoms vary from one infected individual to another from mild to severe, which means there will be those infected by strep throat but not show definitive symptoms. In these cases, further tests may be required, of which there are two:
- Rapid strep test: this test involves taking a swab of your throat by pushing the tongue down and using a swap to collect some of the fluid from the throat. The sample is then taken to the lab for testing, and the results take a few minutes, up to 10 minutes. This test is usually effective, being 95% accurate and instantly tells you if you have the infection.
- Throat culture: in case the rapid strep test fails or is unreliable, one of the proofing methods is a throat culture. Another throat swab is taken, but this time, it is placed on a special culture where the bacteria can grow. After one to two days, the doctor can check whether there were any bacteria, and this will prove whether you had the infection. It is more accurate than the rapid strep test, but it takes time.
Antibiotics are the primary treatment option for strep throat, which can be acquired over-the-counter or through a prescription by a doctor. It is important, though, to get an accurate diagnosis from a doctor before self-medicating.
The doctor will perform either a rapid strep test by taking a swab of your throat or making a throat culture. The former test is quicker, up to 10 minutes, while the latter takes one to two days, but the doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics even before the culture test is complete just to be sure.
Symptoms of strep throat ought to subside soon after you begin medication, and there are always stronger antibiotics if the strain is particularly resistant.