1 Is strep throat viral or bacterial?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the Group A Streptococcus, particularly, the Streptococcus pyogenes. Streptococcus pyogenes is a common group of bacteria that settle and exist in the nose and throat. They can stay there for long periods of time without causing harm to the body, but the bacteria become active when the immune system is weakened due to stress, a cold, or the flu. Picking up a bug from another person can also activate the bacteria.
When the bacteria are stimulated, their begin to attack the body. When this happens, the localized inflammatory response of the pharyngeal tissue and surrounding areas leads to a sore throat as well as other associated symptoms.
Strep throat is commonly mistaken for a sore throat as well as for a cold or the flu. This is because these conditions have similar symptoms. However, unlike strep throat, sore throats, colds, and the flu generally take days to develop.
The incidence of strep throat is high in the fall and spring, and most commonly in children and teenagers at those times of the year.
2 Is strep throat dangerous?
Strep throat is not dangerous; however, it can worsen and complications can arise if it goes untreated or inadequately treated. The bacteria can infect the sinuses, tonsils, middle ear, and blood if allowed to proliferate. There is the possibility of infection if a case of strep throat does not get better within a few days. Also, inflammatory reactions may develop and lead to scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and kidney inflammation (post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis). Rheumatic fever causes swollen joints and could lead to permanent heart damage, while post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis can result in rust-colored urine. Moreover, recent studies have linked strep infection to pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders. PANDAS, for pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, is a term used to describe cases wherein strep triggers a misdirected immune response and results in inflammation in the child's brain. This results in the child exhibiting symptoms of neuropsychiatric disorders such us anxiety, personality changes, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and tics, among others.
All these risks are reduced, however, by antibiotic treatment. If strep throat does not improve within two days of treatment, there is the possibility of there being another infection or an inflammatory reaction, or of the strep bacteria having spread to areas beyond the throat.
Toxic shock syndrome, necrotizing fasciitis, and cellulitis are other complications of an unresolved strep throat.
3 Is strep throat contagious?
Yes, strep throat is contagious. In fact, it is highly contagious. Group A streptococcus, the bacterium that causes strep throat, can spread by means of airborne droplets through sneezing or coughing.
Strep throat is spread through person-to-person contact with fluids and nasal secretions. Thus, if a family member has strep throat, there is a high possibility of other family members also getting infected.
Strep throat usually circulates in early spring and late fall. The bacteria proliferate and spread wherever individuals come into close contact with one another.
People with strep throat must stay at home. Children must not be allowed to go to school and adults must not go to work while they still have strep throat, because as long as they have the symptoms of strep, they are still contagious and can easily spread the bacteria even just by breathing. The strep bacteria can easily spread, which is why doctors often recommend that patients rest and stay at home until they finish their antibiotic treatment and feel better.
4 How do you get strep throat?
Since the bacteria that cause strep throat already live in the nose and throat, interacting with a person who is a carrier of the strep bacteria or is sick with strep bacteria can stimulate the infection. Strep throat can be spread through respiratory droplets by sneezing and coughing. This is because the droplets released in the air contain the bacteria. It can also be spread through contact with nasal secretions or saliva, for example, when you share utensils, food, or drinks with an infected person. You can also catch the bacteria when you touch the surfaces of everyday objects such as doorknobs and subsequently touch your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Strep throat usually spreads in situations where people are in close proximity with one another as in day care centers, schools, family households, college campuses, and military barracks.
To avoid catching the bacteria, regular hand washing is a good idea. If no sink is available, make sure that you always have a hand sanitizer or some alcohol to clean and disinfect your hands.
5 How long does strep throat take to go away?
The symptoms of strep throat begin to appear within two to five days after having come in contact with the bacteria. Fortunately, strep throat can resolve on its own even without treatment after a few days, usually three to seven days. Ninety percent of strep throat cases get better even without treatment. However, treatment can shorten the duration of strep throat. It can also reduce the risk of complications like retropharyngeal abscesses and rheumatic fever, although these complications are rare.
If strep throat is not treated, the person will be contagious for two to three weeks even if the symptoms are already gone. Meanwhile, people who have started taking antibiotics will be less contagious within twenty four hours from the first dose of medication. They are also less likely to be at risk of developing complications.
6 Does strep throat hurt?
Yes, strep throat usually hurts. As a matter of fact, a sore throat can accompany strep throat, making swallowing anything painful. It might also hurt to speak and the voice will likely be hoarse. However, the pain is not severe and can be managed through natural or home remedies.
7 Does strep throat cause headaches?
Headaches are one of the symptoms of strep throat. However, not all people with strep throat experience headaches. The exact reason for strep throat-related headaches has not been determined.
8 Can you go to work if you have strep throat?
You cannot go to work if you have strep throat because you can easily spread the bacteria to your colleagues or other people you interact with. You should stay at home until you no longer have the symptoms of strep throat. Also, you should have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours before allowing other people to be exposed to you to avoid passing on the infection to them.
9 Can you talk if you have strep throat?
Yes, you will still be able to talk even if you have strep throat, although it might hurt and your voice may be a little hoarse.
10 What should you eat if you have strep throat?
If you have strep throat, you should eat food that is easy to swallow, such as mashed potatoes, soups, yogurt, applesauce, and soft-boiled eggs. Cold food like frozen yogurt, sherbet, and ice cream can help numb and soothe the throat.
Eat fresh garlic as it can help remove infection from the blood. It can also reduce inflammation due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Lemon, which is rich in vitamin C, combats the growth of bacteria. Honey is also beneficial because it helps maintain moisture in the throat. In addition, honey helps bring down inflammation as well as soreness.
Do not eat spicy and acidic foods. Caffeine must also be avoided as it causes water loss.
Drinking plenty of fluids is beneficial as it keeps the throat lubricated, and thus eases swallowing. If strep throat is accompanied by fever, you may experience fluid loss. Staying hydrated is therefore very important as it prevents dehydration.
11 What are strep throat treatments?
Even though strep throat is contagious, there is a possibility for it to heal on its own even without treatment. However, there is a high risk of complications when strep throat is not treated properly. Getting the proper treatment for strep throat can reduce the risk of developing complications such as retropharyngeal abscess and rheumatic fever. In addition, treatment can help shorten the duration of the condition.
Antibiotics are effective in treating the symptoms of strep throat and can shorten the duration of the illness if they are given within nine days of the onset of symptoms. Antibiotics can also help lessen the contagiousness of strep throat.
Penicillin is the most commonly prescribed antibiotic for strep throat. It is recommended by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the American Heart Association (AHA) for the treatment of strep throat. A single intramuscular dose of penicillin G benzathine (Bicillin L-A) is given when an individual is not likely to finish the entire course penicillin. Antibiotics come in the form of tablets, capsules, and liquid suspensions. Oral amoxicillin suspension is a good alternative for penicillin since the former tastes better.
Antibiotics are prescribed for 5 to 10 days depending on the doctor’s prerogative. The course of antibiotic treatment must be completed even if the symptoms start to improve or are gone to help avoid antibiotic resistance.
Acetaminophen, or paracetamol, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may also be prescribed. These medications can help in the treatment of the fever and pain associated with strep throat.
Aside from antibiotics and other medications, rest from school or work is required. Wash hands often to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Unfortunately, there is still no vaccine for strep throat.
12 What are the strep throat treatments for adults?
Strep throat treatment for adults is almost the same as the treatment for children and teenagers, since the cause of this illness is the strep bacteria.
Antibiotics are the most common treatment for strep throat. Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common antibiotics used for the infection. These antibiotics kill the strep bacteria, and thereby also alleviate the symptoms of strep throat. Aside from antibiotics, antipyretic drugs and painkillers are also recommended for further treating other symptoms such as pain and fever.
Rest and plenty of water are also advised. Substances or chemicals and environments that could aggravate the condition must also be avoided.
Home remedies may be helpful. Gargling with warm water with a little salt, using a humidifier, and eating cold and soft foods can help improve the symptoms of strep throat.