Strep Throat: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and All You Need to Know

Strep Throat: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and All You Need to Know

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What is strep throat?

A bacterial infection known as strep throat is the culprit behind painful inflammation and swelling in the throat. The bacteria of group A Streptococcus are the ones responsible for causing this prevalent illness.

All ages of children and adults are susceptible to getting strep throat. However, it is most prevalent in children who are between the ages of 5 and 15 years old. Strep throat can be passed from one person to another through close contact of any kind, including sneezing, coughing, sharing eating utensils, and other similar activities. Strep throat can also be passed from person to person through sexual contact.

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How contagious is strep throat?

A bacterial illness of the throat known as strep throat is extremely contagious.

Strep throat typically spreads when someone with strep throat sneezes or coughs, which causes minute respiratory droplets to become airborne in the environment. Find out more about the factors that contribute to the spread of strep throat.

Children are more often than adults to be diagnosed with strep throat. Between the ages of 5 and 15, children and teenagers are the most likely to be affected by this condition.

Strep throat is extremely contagious, which makes it more likely to spread in environments where children congregate, such as schools and childcare centers.

Strep throat is more likely to affect youngsters, but it can also affect adults who spend a lot of time with younger children, such as parents of school-aged children.

It is unusual for children younger than 3 years old to get strep throat.

Strep throat symptoms

Strep throat can have varying degrees of severity depending on the individual who has it. After being exposed to the germs that cause strep throat, symptoms normally begin to appear within five days.

A painful throat is one of the more moderate symptoms that some people experience. Some people get milder symptoms, while others experience more severe symptoms, such as a fever and difficulty swallowing.

The following is a list of the common symptoms of strep throat:

a sudden fever, particularly one that is at least 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) high; a painful, red neck with white spots

The chills of a headache

a reduction in one’s appetite

swallowing become difficult due to enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.

It’s possible to have strep throat even if you don’t have a fever. Learn more about the symptoms of strep throat that do not include a fever.

Less frequent symptoms of strep throat include gastrointestinal issues like the following:

discomfort in the stomach nausea and vomiting

Children have a greater propensity than adults to exhibit these less widespread symptoms.

Strep throat can also cause a rash to appear on the patient. This condition is known as scarlet fever, also referred to as scarlatina. However, strep throat does not typically cause rashes in patients.

Scarlet fever is characterized by a rash that may emerge up to seven days before or after the onset of other symptoms. The rash starts out as red patches on the skin and then develops into tiny pimples. The rash should clear up within a week’s time, but you may continue to have to peel skin in the affected areas for several weeks after the infection has cleared up.

Certain symptoms, however, point to a viral illness rather than strep throat. There is a possibility that you suffer from a different ailment if you have any of the following symptoms:

coughing fits and a raspy voice

runny nose pink eye (conjunctivitis)

Amoxicillin can cause a rash if it is administered to a person who genuinely has mononucleosis but is given the antibiotics for what is thought to be strep throat.

It is recommended that you schedule an appointment with a medical professional and obtain a strep test in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Strep throat causes

The bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes, often known as group A Streptococcus, are responsible for strep throat (also known as group A strep, or GAS).

If you contact your eyes, nose, or mouth after being exposed to these bacteria, for example after witnessing someone with strep throat cough or sneeze, then you run the risk of contracting strep throat.

Sharing food or drink with someone who has a current infection of strep throat makes it possible for you to contract the disease and transfer it to others.

It is also possible to contract strep throat by contacting your eyes, nose, or mouth after coming into contact with an object that is contaminated with group A strep bacteria, such as a doorknob or faucet, and then touching those areas again. Strep throat is another illness that can be contracted by children who put foreign things in their mouths.

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Risk factors

There are some things that can put you at an increased risk of getting strep throat. They are as follows:

spending time in crowded settings, such as schools, daycare centers, or military facilities having close contact with someone who has strep throat being between the ages of 5 and 15 having a child who is in school being an adult who has frequent contact with children, such as a teacher or a healthcare professional

The majority of cases of strep throat in adults are found in patients who are younger than 40 years old.

Strep throat is a contagious illness that frequently affects members of the same family. Close contact is the single most important risk factor for contracting strep throat.

Strep throat when pregnant

Visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible if you are pregnant and suspect that you have strep throat so that you may explore the various treatment choices with them.

Antibiotics may be prescribed by your doctor, and he or she will carefully check any medications you are taking. Find out more about the treatment options available for strep throat when you’re expecting a child.

Group A streptococcus, the bacteria responsible for strep throat, is not the same as group B streptococcus, the type of streptococcus that can be discovered in or around the vagina or rectum. Although the bacterium that causes strep throat and group B streptococcus can both be transferred to a baby during birth, the bacteria that causes group B streptococcus is not related to the bacteria that causes strep throat.

Strep throat treatment

Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for strep throat, which is caused by a bacterial infection. A doctor will normally recommend taking an antibiotic. These drugs stop the growth of bacteria and slow the progression of illnesses.

When it comes to treating strep throat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Trusted Source suggests using a total of eight different medicines. They are as follows:

penicillin (oral or intramuscular)

amoxicillin (oral)

cephalexin (oral)

antibiotics taken orally include cefadroxil, clindamycin, clarithromycin, and azithromycin (oral)

Penicillin and amoxicillin are the antibiotics that are most frequently prescribed to treat strep throat infections. If you have an allergy to penicillin or amoxicillin, your doctor may recommend a different antibiotic, such as azithromycin, to treat your condition instead. Learn more about the antibiotic azithromycin and its use in treating strep throat.

The choice of antibiotic that a doctor makes may also be influenced by the degree to which strep bacteria in a given region have developed resistance to the antibiotics that are available to treat them.

Antibiotics are recommended by the CDC as an effective treatment for strep throat due to the following benefits:

reducing the total duration of the sickness

decreasing symptoms, avoiding the spread of the strep bacterium, preventing rheumatic fever, which is a significant inflammatory immunological reaction, and preventing other dangerous consequences such as peritonsillar abscess are all possible benefits of treatment.

In order to fully defeat the illness, it is essential that you take all of the prescribed antibiotics until they have been exhausted. When symptoms begin to improve, some people stop taking their medicine, which can lead to a recurrence in the future. In this scenario, it is possible for the symptoms to reappear. Additionally, it may have a role in the development of antibiotic resistance.

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Home remedies for strep throat symptoms

Treatments that can be done at home, in addition to medications, may be helpful in relieving the symptoms of strep throat. These treatments include the following:

obtaining an adequate amount of sleep

ingesting warm drinks, such as lemon water, and tea

Consuming cold liquids might help reduce the discomfort in your throat.

consumption of mushy meals such as yogurt and applesauce

putting on throat lozenges, ice, or popsicles sucking on throat lozenges turning on a cool-mist humidifier taking over-the-counter pain medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen sucking on popsicles or ice

combining a quarter of a teaspoon (five milliliters) of salt with one cup (240 milliliters) of water and gargle the solution.

Honey and apple cider vinegar are two examples of natural medicines that could be helpful.

Essential oil for strep throat

Plants’ leaves, bark, stems, and flowers are all used in the distillation process to create essential oils. They might hasten the healing process by eliminating infectious agents and bringing down inflammatory levels.

There is some debate over the essential oils’ potential health benefits. On the other hand, the following essential oils may be of some use in the treatment of strep throat.

In light of 2019 research,

The following essential oils were found by researchers to have antibacterial qualities, according to a trusted source on the medical usage of various essential oils:

herbs and spices such as thyme, lavender, cinnamon, peppermint, clove, eucalyptus, and tea tree.

However, the authors of the review warned that the effectiveness of these alternatives is significantly lower than that of antibiotics. In addition, the antibacterial activity included in each is rather low and has a short half-life, which highlights the significance of the formulation type.

A study was done in 2017

A reliable source discovered that a particular combination of essential oils containing cinnamon, wild carrot, eucalyptus, and rosemary have antibacterial properties.

It is not advisable to take essential oils internally. They can be absorbed through the respiratory system by inhalation or diluted with oil and put into a bath. Tea can be flavored with various medicinal ingredients, such as ginger root or lemon juice. Learn more about how these essential oils might help heal a sore throat by doing some research.

Foods like these are frequently used to relieve the symptoms of a sore throat, but it is unknown whether or not they are beneficial in treating strep throat specifically.

ginger \sgarlic \slemon

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Complications from strep throat

If it is not treated in a timely manner, strep throat can result in serious complications. These complications may include:

The following are some of the potential issues that could arise:

an infection of the ear sinusitis pneumonia, which occurs when the germs that cause strep throat travel into the lungs an infection of the sinuses an infection of the skin of the nose and throat a peritonsillar abscess is an infection that occurs in the rear of the tonsils and is filled with pus. This abscess can be quite painful. Everyone is at risk for contracting strep throat because it is a bacterial infection that is contagious.

Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disorder that can harm various parts of the body simultaneously, including the skin, the heart, and the joints.

The inflammatory arthritis known as post-streptococcal reactive arthritis is one type of arthritis that can affect more than one joint.

a condition known as poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis, which is an inflammation of the kidneys; bacteremia, which can also be referred to as “blood poisoning,” and occurs when bacteria are present in the blood stream; and a condition known as septicemia, which is an infection of the blood.

PANDAS is a paediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric illness that is connected with streptococci and is characterised by rapid changes in a child’s movement, personality, or behaviour following an infection with strep germs. This disorder is associated with streptococci. Inflammation of the membranes that envelop the brain and spinal cord is what happens in cases of meningitis. Meningitis is the medical term for PANDAS. PANDAS can manifest in the form of meningitis.

an infection caused by bacteria that is known as streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. This condition is exceedingly rare yet has the potential to be fatal.

If you see any of the symptoms of strep throat, you should contact your primary care physician as soon as you can to schedule an appointment. By doing so, you will lessen the likelihood of experiencing any penalties.

How is strep throat diagnosed?

If you have symptoms that point to a viral infection, such as a cough and runny nose, your doctor may rule out the possibility that you have strep throat. Even with these symptoms, however, it is essential to make an appointment with a medical professional in order to have the condition properly diagnosed and, if required, treated.

Consult a physician if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

a persistent case of throat pain that lasts more than two days

a painful throat with dark, crimson splotches or spots on the tonsils or the roof of the mouth as well as white patches.

throat pain, difficulty breathing, and difficulty swallowing accompanied by a fine, sandpaper-like rash that appears pink on the skin.

Your throat is going to be examined, and your doctor will be looking for symptoms of inflammation. Additionally, they may check your neck for enlarged lymph nodes and inquire about any other symptoms you have been experiencing.

Even if you don’t have viral symptoms like a cough, runny nose, or a hoarse voice, your doctor won’t be able to rule out the possibility that you have strep throat caused by bacteria. However, in order to get a conclusive diagnosis of strep throat, they may do a quick test or obtain a throat culture.

Rapid strep test

In the event that your physician suspects that you have strep throat, he or she may perform a quick strep test right there in the office.

The results of this test will indicate if your sore throat is the result of an infection caused by strep or another sort of bacterium or germ. In order to obtain a sample, your doctor will use a long cotton swab to capture a sample from the back of your throat. After that, the sample is put through a series of tests using a kit in order to look for traces of bacteria.

In approximately 5 minutes, the results will be made accessible to you. Gain a better understanding of the fast strep test.

The fast test is reliable; however, it is possible that it will miss certain cases of strep throat. Even if the results of the quick test come back negative, some doctors may still advise their patients to have a throat culture done.

Throat culture

If the fast strep test comes back negative, the physician may take another swab, which is referred to as a throat culture, and submit it to an independent laboratory for further examination.

The majority of the time, a throat culture is ordered by a doctor when the patient is at an increased risk of developing serious problems as a result of untreated strep. Rheumatic fever is an example of this type of complication. Even if a patient’s quick test comes out negative, a doctor may still decide to take a throat culture from a child or teen even if they are at a higher risk for rheumatic fever.

If the rapid test is negative for strep, a doctor might decide not to order a throat culture for an adult because there is a low likelihood that the adult will develop rheumatic fever as a result of strep.

The results of the throat culture can be obtained in a few days’ time.

How to prevent strep throat

There is currently no vaccine that can protect against strep throat. Hand washing on a regular basis is one of the most effective measures that can be taken to help prevent infection. You can use hand sanitizer instead of soap and water if you don’t have access to either of those things.

If someone has strep throat, you should avoid sharing drinks or food with them. If someone in your household has strep throat, you shouldn’t share their towels, sheets, or pillowcases while they are contagious. Do the laundry and the dishes in water that has been heated with soap.

If your child has strep throat, you may help prevent it from spreading to other members of your family by doing the following:

keeping the child’s eating and drinking dishes separate from one another not sharing food, drinks, napkins, cloths, or linens between the child and others having the child cover all coughs and sneezes enforcing regular hand washing among everyone in the household replacing the child’s toothbrush after the course of antibiotics has ended keeping the child’s eating and drinking dishes separate from one another keeping the child’s eating and drinking dishes separate from one another keeping the child’s eating and drinking dishes separate from one another

If you have strep throat, you should avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands and instead use the crook of your elbow or a tissue instead. Always be sure to wash your hands after using the restroom. Investigate a wider variety of preventative measures against strep throat.

Comparing strep throat to similar illnesses

Strep throat Sore throat Cold Mono
Causes bacteria virus/irritation virus virus
Symptoms sore throat, trouble swallowing, fever, swollen tonsils, swollen lymph nodes painful throat, itchy or scratchy feeling, painful swallowing runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, fatigue, fever, headache fever, sore throat, fatigue, swollen neck or armpit glands, swollen liver or spleen, loss of appetite
Duration symptoms improve in 1-2 days after starting antibiotics 7-10 days 1-2 weeks 2-4 weeks
Treatment antibiotics none none none

Strep throat vs. sore throat

Infectious sore throats are typically brought on by a virus, whereas strep throat is brought on by bacteria belonging to the group A strep species.

Strep throat is not the cause of every case of a sore throat, and not all sore throats are contagious. There are a variety of illnesses and disorders that can lead to a sore throat. These are the following:

a viral respiratory illness and an infection of the sinuses

postnasal drip acid reflux

inflammation of the throat caused by inhaled cigarette particles

The majority of sore throats brought on by various medical disorders tend to get well on their own within one to two weeks, on average.

Strep throat vs. the common cold

Both the common cold and strep throat are caused by different bacteria. The typical cold is caused by viruses, whereas strep throat is caused by an infection with bacteria.

If you have a cold, you probably have symptoms including coughing, a runny nose, and hoarseness. These symptoms are common to most colds. It is not usual for strep throat patients to exhibit these symptoms, notably coughing.

The pain that you feel in your throat as a result of having a cold will often start off mild and become much worse over the course of a few days. However, some colds can continue for as long as two weeks. Strep throat can suddenly cause severe pain in the throat. It manifests in a more severe form and may last for days.

In most cases, there is no requirement for medical care in order for a person to recover from a cold. Antibiotics are the treatment of choice for strep throat, which are typically provided so that complications such as rheumatic fever can be avoided.

Strep throat vs. mono

Infectious mononucleosis, sometimes known as mono or “the kissing sickness,” is a condition that is commonly caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Mono is also commonly referred to as “the kissing disease.” Mono is a disease that typically strikes adolescents and young adults; however, it can also affect younger children.

Mono can cause symptoms that are very similar to those of strep throat, including a painful throat, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. Mono, on the other hand, is caused by a viral infection, in contrast to strep throat, which is caused by a bacterial infection. Antibiotics are not used to treat this condition.

There is now no treatment available for mono, and the symptoms often linger for around a month. The treatment consists of relaxation and pain relieving medication to alleviate the symptoms. If you have mono, your doctor may recommend that you stay away from any sports that involve physical contact until you have fully healed.

If you are concerned that you may have mono, your doctor can do blood tests to investigate the possibility.

Strep throat recovery

If your symptoms of strep throat do not improve within 48 hours after taking an antibiotic, you should schedule an appointment with your primary care physician to lower your risk of developing problems. To combat the illness, they might have to prescribe a new antibiotic to the patient.

If there is an abscess present, a medical professional may need to make an incision and drain the pus.


As soon as you begin therapy for strep throat, you should begin to see an improvement in how you are feeling within a few days. If you do not already have one, you should schedule an appointment with a physician.

Inquire with your physician on the time frame during which you or your child will be able to resume normal activities following the initiation of antibiotic treatment.

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