What To Know About Strep Throat
Strep throat, a bacterial infection in the throat and tonsils, causes a sore or scratchy throat, as well as white patches on your tonsils.
It is highly contagious during the incubation period the two to five days after youre infected and before symptoms appear and stays contagious until your symptoms resolve, according to Jake Mefford, PA, clinical director for OSF OnCall Urgent Care clinics.
Hand hygiene and disinfecting commonly used surfaces frequently can decrease the risk of transmission of strep, Jake said.
Jake took time to answer more questions about strep:
Protect Yourself And Others
People can get strep throat more than once. Having strep throat does not protect someone from getting it again in the future. While there is no vaccine to prevent strep throat, there are things people can do to protect themselves and others.
Good Hygiene Helps Prevent Group A Strep Infections
The best way to keep from getting or spreading group A strep is to wash your hands often. This is especially important after coughing or sneezing and before preparing foods or eating. To practice good hygiene, you should:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze
- Put your used tissue in the waste basket
- Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands, if you dont have a tissue
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available
You should also wash glasses, utensils, and plates after someone who is sick uses them. These items are safe for others to use once washed.
Wash your hands often to help prevent germs from spreading.
Antibiotics Help Prevent Spreading the Infection to Others
People with strep throat should stay home from work, school, or daycare until they:
- No longer have a fever
- Have taken antibiotics for at least 12 hours
Take the prescription exactly as the doctor says to. Dont stop taking the medicine, even if you or your child feel better, unless the doctor says to stop.
What Causes Strep Throat
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that occurs due to a bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes .
S. pyogenes belongs to a group of bacteria that grow in chains of spherical cells called group A Streptococcus.
According to a , strep throat causes approximately 515% of sore throats in adults and 2030% of cases involving children.
The state that group A strep bacteria typically live in the throat and nose and spread through tiny droplets of infected mucus or moisture.
Even people who are not experiencing symptoms can spread the bacteria.
Most people become exposed to infectious mucus droplets by:
- breathing them in
- washing the hands frequently for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
- avoiding touching the nose, mouth, or face
- avoiding contact with people who have contagious infections
- washing glasses, plates, utensils, and other items after someone with strep throat has used them or come into contact with them
People with strep throat can also reduce the risk of spreading it to others by:
- taking antibiotics
- washing their hands frequently, especially after coughing or sneezing or before preparing or eating food
- coughing or sneezing into a tissue of the upper elbow or shirt sleeve, not the hands
- placing used tissues into the trash can or garbage
- staying home when symptomatic
You May Like: What Antibiotics Treat Strep Throat In Adults
Scarlet Fever: What To Expect
In general, scarlet fever is a mild infection. It usually takes two to five days for someone exposed to group A strep to become sick. Illness usually begins with a fever and sore throat. There may also be chills, vomiting, or abdominal pain. The tongue may have a whitish coating and appear swollen. It may also have a strawberry-like appearance. The throat and tonsils may be very red and sore, and swallowing may be painful.
One or two days after the illness begins, a red rash usually appears. However, the rash can appear before illness or up to 7 days later. The rash may first appear on the neck, underarm, and groin . Over time, the rash spreads over the body. The rash usually begins as small, flat blotches that slowly become fine bumps that feel like sandpaper.
Although the cheeks might look flushed , there may be a pale area around the mouth. Underarm, elbow, and groin skin creases may become brighter red than the rest of the rash. The rash from scarlet fever fades in about 7 days. As the rash fades, the skin may peel around the fingertips, toes, and groin area. This peeling can last up to several weeks.
Personal Stories About Taking Antibiotics For Sore Throat
These stories are based on information gathered from health professionals and consumers. They may be helpful as you make important health decisions.
I was sick a lot as a kid, and I was always taking medicine. Maybe it helped at the time. But in the past few years, when I’ve gotten a bad sore throat or sinus infection, antibiotics haven’t worked. I’ve had to try two or three different ones each time. That gets expensive. The next time I get a sore throat, I’m going to try just staying home, resting, and taking care of myself instead of taking antibiotics.
My 8-year-old daughter got strep throat last month. I thought it was just a cold, and I kept her home from school for a few days. But she wasn’t getting better and she felt so miserable. I was also worried about ear infections. She gets a lot of those too. The doctor did a strep test and suggested she take antibiotics. Amy started feeling better a few days later. I think antibiotics were the right way to go this time.
My insurance doesn’t pay for all of my medicines, so I try to make sure I really need the ones I do take. The last time I had a bad cold, my throat got really sore. The pain made it hard for me to swallow. I called my doctor’s office and the nurse said I could come in if I felt I needed a prescription. I thought I’d wait and see instead. I took ibuprofen and drank a lot of tea and honey, and in a few days I felt better. I’m glad I didn’t spend the money on a doctor visit and medicine.
You May Like: Honey As An Antibiotic For Dogs
What Are The Symptoms Of A Strep Throat
Generally, Strep sore throats tend to be very painful and symptoms persist for a lot longer than sore throats due to another cause. Swallowing may be particularly difficult and painful. Symptoms of a Strep throat may include:
- Sudden onset of sore throat
- Very red and swollen-looking tonsils and back of the throat
- Sometimes streaks of pus or red spots may appear on the roof of the mouth
- A headache
- Swollen and tender glands in the neck.
Children are more likely to feel sick and vomit.
People with a Strep throat do NOT typically have a cough, runny nose, hoarseness, mouth ulcers, or conjunctivitis. If these symptoms occur there is more likely to be a viral cause for the sore throat.
Some people are susceptible to the toxins produced by the S. pyrogenes bacteria and develop a bright red rash that feels like sandpaper to the touch. A rash caused by S. pyrogenes bacteria is known as Scarlet Fever . Although it usually follows a sore throat, it may also occur after school sores .
Strep Throat Home Care
Until the antibiotics start to work, these home treatments can help you or your child feel better:
- Over-the-counter pain relievers: Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to bring down a fever and ease the sore throat. Don’t give aspirin to children and teens. It can cause a rare but serious condition called Reyeâs syndrome.
- Rest: Stay home from school or work. You need extra rest to help your body fight off the infection.
- Gargling: Rinse with a mixture of a quarter-teaspoon of salt and 8 ounces of warm water to relieve a scratchy throat.
- Lozenges and hard candy: Older kids can suck on these to feel better. Avoid giving small pieces of candy to children 4 and younger.
- Lots of fluids: Do this especially if you have a fever. Water and warm liquids such as soup or tea soothe the throat and keep you hydrated. If cold feels better on your throat, suck on a frozen pop or ice chips. Avoid orange juice, lemonade, and other drinks that are high in acid. These can burn your throat.
- Soft foods: Examples include yogurt, applesauce, or frozen yogurt. They’re easier to swallow.
- Cool-mist humidifier or saline nasal spray: Moisture can help make your throat feel better.
Steer clear of anything that might bother your throat, like cigarette smoke, paint fumes, or cleaning products.
Also Check: What Antibiotics Get Rid Of Bv
How Long Does Strep Throat Last Without Antibiotics
Using antibiotics as a medical treatment for strep throat has become more and more common. However, there has been a lot of worries about how long does strep throat last without antibiotics? because people often think that antibiotics are one of the best treatment to reduce the symptoms as well as minimize the risk of its complications.
Strep throat occurs mostly in children aged from five to fifteen. And recently most parents are often making their great attempt to lessen the use of antibiotics in treating strep throat. The reason is that though antibiotics can diminish the risk of complications and make the body improve quicker, using it may exert unexpected health issues and lead to an increase in the susceptibility to bacteria and infection.
Then, almost all parents consider how long does strep throat last without antibiotics? Maybe, most of us havent received any adequate answers for this long-debated issue. Here, let us bring this matter come to light and you may know than you expected.
Pain And Fever Without A Cough Are Common Signs And Symptoms
In general, strep throat is a mild infection, but it can be very painful. The most common symptoms of strep throat include:
- Sore throat that can start very quickly
- Pain when swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
- Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
Other symptoms may include a headache, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting especially in children. Someone with strep throat may also have a rash known as scarlet fever .
The following symptoms suggest a virus is the cause of the illness instead of strep throat:
It usually takes two to five days for someone exposed to group A strep to become ill.
A sore throat that starts quickly, pain with swallowing, and fever are some of the common signs and symptoms of strep throat.
Recommended Reading: Is Strep Throat Contagious After Starting Antibiotics
Other Sore Throats Don’t Need Special Medicine So Why Does Strep Throat
Most sore throats are caused by viruses, which cannot be cured with medicine you can only relieve the aches and pains. Viruses heal on their own and cannot be cured with antibiotics or other medicines.
Strep throat is caused by a bacterium. Infections caused by bacteria can be treated with antibiotics. Strep throat can lead to more serious illnesses, so it’s important to get it treated.
When To See A Doctor
If you develop a sudden sore throat and are concerned for strep, you should speak with a healthcare provider.
While strep throat can go away on its own in many cases, antibiotic treatment can help symptoms go away about one day more quickly, and may slightly decrease sore throat pain after about 3 days of use.
Antibiotics may also help prevent more serious complications from developing.
If you have a sore throat and develop difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing, you should seek emergency medical care.
Don’t Miss: Homemade Antibiotics For Sinus Infection
How Long Do They Take To Work
How long antibiotics take to work depends on the infection being treated and what type of antibiotic you are taking. Some antibiotics achieve their maximum effect with high concentrations, and these may be given in the form of intravenous infusions. Other types of antibiotics are more effective over time.
For example, levofloxacin is in the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics and it reaches its peak performance based on concentration. It is a stronger antibiotic that begins to work in hours, but can take days to completely cure an infection.
On the other hand, penicillins work over a period of time. Depending on how your illness has spread, it can take days or even weeks to work completely. For example, when used to treat strep throat, penicillins can make you non-infectious to others in about a day, but you may need to keep taking medication for several days to resolve your own infection.
Always take antibiotics for the full regimen prescribed by your doctor. Stopping a course of antibiotics early can worsen your infection or increase your resistance to antibiotics overall. Even if you start to feel better, some antibiotics continue to work for awhile after your stop taking them, and how quickly they work can vary from person to person.
When To See A Healthcare Professional
You should only take antibiotics under the direction of a healthcare professional. If your symptoms worsen or aren’t resolved after your full course of antibiotics, talk to your healthcare provider about additional treatment options.
You should also alert your healthcare provider to any side effects you experience while taking antibiotics, even if they are minor. Go the emergency room or seek immediate medical care if you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction while taking antibiotics.
Recommended Reading: Are Antibiotics Required For Uti
What Is A Strep Test
A strep test looks for Streptococcus bacteria in the throat. The test is painless and takes very little time. The tip of a cotton swab is used to wipe the back of the throat. The swab is then tested.
The rapid strep test takes approximately 20 minutes. If the test is positive , the patient has strep throat. If the test is negative , the doctor may send the throat swab to a laboratory to double-check the results. Some doctors may not do a rapid strep test and instead just send the throat swab to the laboratory.
Many Tests Considerations Help Doctors Diagnose Rheumatic Fever
There is no single test used to diagnose rheumatic fever. Instead, doctors can look for signs of illness, check the patients medical history, and use many tests, including:
- A throat swab to look for a group A strep infection
- A blood test to look for antibodies that would show if the patient recently had a group A strep infection
- A test of how well the heart is working
- A test that creates a movie of the heart muscle working
Don’t Miss: Do Antibiotics Help Hormonal Acne
What Can Make My Sore Throat Feel Better
Here are some things that might help you feel better:
- Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and reduce fever. Children should not take aspirin. Aspirin can cause a serious illness called Reyes syndrome when it is given to children younger than 18 years of age.
- Gargle with warm salt water .
- Adults and older children can suck on throat lozenges, hard candy, pieces of ice, or popsicles.
- Eat soft foods and drink cool drinks or warm liquids .
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep helps your body fight infection.
- Drink plenty of water. This helps keep your throat lubricated and helps prevent dehydration.
- Avoid acidic or spicy foods and drinks .
Rheumatic Fever: All You Need To Know
Rheumatic fever is a disease that can affect the heart, joints, brain, and skin. Rheumatic fever can develop if strep throat and scarlet fever infections are not treated properly. Early diagnosis of these infections and treatment with antibiotics are key to preventing rheumatic fever.
Recommended Reading: Best Over The Counter Antibiotic For Skin Infection
My Daughters Experience With Untreated Strep Throat
Recently, my preteen daughter came down with strep. She is my youngest child, and this was the first time any of my three children had ever had strep throat.
Given that she is healthy with no underlying health issues, my husband and I decided to ride it out. We treated her with natural antibiotics only.
She recovered completely within 48 hours. In fact, the white spots on her throat disappeared in less than 12 hours once we started treatments. We used garlic, raw manuka honey, and turmeric several times a day.
It will be interesting to see if she ever gets strep throat again. My bet is that she wont. She will likely develop partial or total lifelong immunity just like I did when I recovered at age 15 from untreated strep.
Symptoms Of Sore Throat
A sore throat can make it painful to swallow. A sore throat can also feel dry and scratchy. Sore throat can be a symptom of strep throat, the common cold, allergies, or other upper respiratory tract illness.
The following symptoms suggest a virus is the cause of the illness instead of the bacteria called group A strep:
- Joint swelling and pain
This list is not all-inclusive. Please see your doctor for any symptom that is severe or concerning.
Follow up with a doctor if symptoms do not improve within a few days, get worse, or if you or your child have recurrent sore throats.
Don’t Miss: Top Antibiotics For Sinus Infection