Strep Throat – Casues, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention.

Definition

Strep throat or streptococcal pharyngitis is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and pain in the throat. This common condition is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. It can affect children and adults of all ages. However, it’s especially common in children between the ages of 5 and 15. Sneezing and coughing can spread the infection from one person to another.

 

History

There is no definite discovery date for Strep Throat since medical technology was not advanced enough to fully identify the bacteria that caused it, Streptococcus pyogenes. Instead, medical researchers have instead reviewed historical records that include data about a very similar bacterial strand called Streptococcus pyonenes, which causes Scarlet Fever and other diseases. A strand of the bacteria was isolated in 1879 by Louis Pasteur (the same man that invented the technique of pasteurization) from a woman that had contracted Perpueral Fever. Several years later, a scientist by the name of Loffler named the strand Streptococcus pyonenes, a strand with very similar qualities to Streptococcus pyogenes.

Epidemiology

Strep throat is one of the most common illnesses in children. In the United States, 15-36% of 7.3 million outpatient visits each year among children were due to S. pyogenes. It is also more common in the northern area of the United States, however it is seen throughout the nation as well as the world.

Risk factors of strep throat

Several factors can increase your risk of infection:

Young age: Strep throat occurs most commonly in children.

Time of year: Although it can occur anytime, it tends to circulate in late fall and early spring. Strep bacteria flourish wherever groups of people are in close contact.

 

Causes of strep throat

  • The cause of streptococcal pharyngitis is bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus.
  • Streptococcal bacteria are highly contagious. They can spread through airborne droplets when someone with the infection coughs or sneezes, or through shared food or drinks. You can also pick up the bacteria from a doorknob or other surface and transfer them to your nose, mouth or eyes.

How strep throat is spread, and is it contagious?

  • streptococcal pharyngitis is highly contagious and is most commonly spread via direct person-to-person contact.
  • The incubation period (the time it takes from exposure to the infection to the appearance of symptoms) for strep throat is two to five days.
  • Passage of airborne droplets and/or saliva from the infected individual to another is the most likely mechanism of contracting strep throat. Close quarters (such as the home, classroom, day care centers, college dorms, etc.) provide an ideal environment for passage of strep bacteria from one person to another.
  • The risk of contracting a strep throat infection is approximately 40% in household environments.
  • Most infectious disease specialists believe that a patient is no longer contagious after 24 hours of effective antibiotic therapy.
  • Spread of strep bacteria via food borne transmission is less common than direct person-to-person exchange of droplets or saliva.
  • The exact likelihood of developing strep throat from family pets is unknown, but most experts believe it is minimal.

Symptoms of strep throat

The severity of streptococcal pharyngitis can vary from person-to-person. Some people experience mild symptoms like a sore throat, whereas other people have more severe symptoms including fever and difficulty swallowing. The common symptoms of strep throat include:

  • A sudden fever, especially if it’s 101˚F or higher
  • A sore, red throat with white patches
  • A headache
  • Chills
  • A loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Trouble swallowing

The symptoms of streptococcal pharyngitis typically develop within five days of exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms of strep throat

Complications

Complications related to the strep infection

Although rare, complications can result from the strep infection spreading to other areas of the body. Infection can spread to the:

  • Middle ear (otitis media).
  • Sinuses (sinusitis).

Other, rare, complications include:

  • Infection behind the pharynx (retropharyngeal abscess).
  • Infection of the lymph nodes of the neck.
  • A per tonsillar abscess.
  • Toxic shock syndrome.

Diagnosis and test

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam, look for signs and symptoms of strep throat, and probably order one or more of the following tests:

Rapid antigen test: Your doctor will likely first perform a rapid antigen test on a swab sample from your throat. This test can detect strep bacteria in minutes by looking for substances (antigens) in the throat. If the test is negative but your doctor still suspects strep, he or she might do a throat culture.

Throat culture:  A sterile swab is rubbed over the back of the throat and tonsils to get a sample of the secretions. It’s not painful, but it may cause gagging. The sample is then cultured in a laboratory for the presence of bacteria, but results can take as long as two days.

Treatment and medications

Antibiotics

If you’re diagnosed with strep throat, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat the infection. These medications inhibit the spread of bacteria and infections. Several types of antibiotics are available. However, penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common medications given for a strep infection.

It’s important that you finish your antibiotic treatment course to kill the infection completely. Some people stop taking their medication when symptoms improve, which can trigger a relapse. If this happens, the symptoms can return.

At-home care

In addition to antibiotics, there are at-home treatments to improve the symptoms of strep throat. These remedies include:

  • Drinking warm liquids, such as lemon water and tea
  • Drinking cold liquids to help numb the throat
  • Turning on a cool-mist humidifier
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Sucking on throat lozenges
  • Adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to 1 cup of water and gargling the mixture

Prevention

  • The best preventive measure against strep throat involves instituting measures to minimize the spread of the illness to others.
  • There is currently no vaccine available to prevent strep throat.
  • Keep eating utensils, dishes, and drinking glasses separate from any infected person.
  • Do not to share food and drinks, napkins, handkerchiefs, or towels because infection may spread by these objects of personal use.
  • Cover the mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, this helps prevent the release of infected airborne droplets.
  • Washing the hands frequently will decrease the chances of both the infected person and uninfected individuals from spreading the bacteria to others and uninfected individuals acquiring the infection.

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24 comments

  1. Thanks a lot for this information about what normally make made cry.

  2. how can a woman get infection

    • It is not about a gender to get strep throat. An individual who is more in contact to the organisms is responsible for getting infection easily.

  3. If symptoms reoccur few weeks after completion of amoxicilin dose, what should be done?

  4. the assistant is perfect

  5. i have a similiar condition but the thing is it is in the upper part of the throat on one side,is it the same disease aor anything else,

  6. I really appreciate and I pray it works for me

  7. please suggest some medication for Strep Throat

  8. how long does it last

  9. This piece is educative.
    Having gone through the medi-, guide. If the sickness relapse, what can someone do, especially if one do not have enough money to do surgery.

  10. please can a pregnant woman who is in her first trimester takes Amoxacillin for the treatment?

  11. Any part of my body I scratch turn to painful boil I also have a painful growth in my vagina

    • A boil is a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. In your case since boil is on the vagina, it might be due to some bacterial infection. Hence it is recommended for you to consider physician advice to diagnose the problem.

  12. I have it for 22 days it should be dangerous or not doctor said me that I have chronic pharyngitis suggest me

    • Chronic Pharyngitis can be treated by:
      Treating the underlying cause for inflammation, such as altering patient’s food habits (avoiding smoking, alcohol)
      Local therapy – salt gargles, hot water
      Chemical or diathermy cautery done

  13. Your Francis NwaliName

    can strep throat cause mucus to accumulate in the throat ?

    • strep throat usually doesn’t cause a cough, runny nose, or watery eyes. Viral infections and mucus in the throat from allergies or other conditions are more likely to cause a cough.

  14. is this strep throat the same as dry throat

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