Signs & Treatment of Streptococcus (Strep Throat)

What You Should Expect When Dealing with Strep Throat

Strep Throat is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to long-term health implications if left untreated.  Also referred to as Streptococcus, it is extremely contagious.  If someone is diagnosed with Strep, they should not be exposed to people with jeopardized immune systems or allowed to return to work or school until advised to do so by their doctor.  The rates of this illness greatly increase during the school year and usually affects children and teens aged 5-15 years old.

The first signs that you or someone you care for may have Strep include complaints of a sore throat and increased mucus production.  Soon after they will exhibit swollen glands in the throat as well as swollen tonsils.  As the illness progresses the patient usually will produce a fever , nausea, and possible headaches.

The only way to confirm a strep throat diagnosis is through testing in a doctor’s office. Typically the tonsils are red, swollen, and may have white spots on them.  This can often be confused with infectious Mononucleosis (Mono) in teenagers.  The physicianwill swab the throat and run a rapid strep test in most cases.  Even if that test comes back negative the culture will be sent to the lab for further testing.  In some cases, if the symptoms are clearly showing that strep is most likely occurring the doctor will begin treatment (antibiotics/steroids) right away even though the initial test was negative.  If there is too much evidence that leads the doctor to believe that a sore throat is caused by a virus, he/she may recommend that the patient rest and wait for the culture results.

It is important to seek treatment from a doctor or ENT Specialist as soon as possible if one has both a sore throat and a fever, as this is very indicative of having strep.  The sooner treatment is sought the less chance others will be exposed to the illness and it is less likely that there will serious complications.

Treatment consists of a round of antibiotics, usually amoxicillin.  Without antibiotic treatment, the patient could suffer from rheumatic or scarlet fever, which are more serious illnesses.

In addition to antibiotics, it is important to rest, drink plenty of fluids, eat when you can and continue using a fever reducer medication until the fever is no longer.  Herbal teas and other warm, thin fluids can be used to sooth the throat.  It is recommended patients stay away from drinks containing sugar, as they essentially feed the bacteria that is present.

In most cases, people feel a great deal better after being on antibiotics for 24 hours.  They are also no longer contagious.  If after 48 hours on antibiotics the patient does not feel a great deal better, they should make an appointment to return to the doctor.  Even if the patient does feel better they should keep any follow-up appointments as they have to ensure that they have fully recovered from the illness and do not have any lasting health implications.