Strep throat is a common type of sore throat in children, but it's not very common in adults. Healthcare professionals can do a quick test to determine if a sore throat is strep throat and decide if antibiotics are needed. Proper treatment can help you feel better faster and prevent spreading it to others.
Many things can cause that unpleasant, scratchy, and sometimes painful condition known as a sore throat. Viruses, bacteria, allergens, environmental irritants (such as cigarette smoke), chronic postnasal drip and fungi can all cause a sore throat. While many sore throats will get better without treatment, some throat infections, including strep throat, may need antibiotic treatment.
How You Get Strep Throat
Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria (called "group A strep"). Group A strep bacteria can also live in a person's nose and throat without causing illness. The bacteria are spread through contact with droplets after an infected person coughs or sneezes. If you touch your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something that has these droplets on it, you may become ill. If you drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as the sick person, you could also become ill. It is also possible to get strep throat from contact with sores from group A strep skin infections.
Common Symptoms of Strep Throat
A Simple Test Gives Fast Results
Healthcare professionals can test for strep by swabbing the throat to quickly see if group A strep bacteria are causing a sore throat. A strep test is needed to tell if you have strep throat; just looking at your throat is not enough to make a diagnosis. If the test is positive, your healthcare professional can prescribe antibiotics. If the strep test is negative, but your clinician still strongly suspects you have this infection, then they can take a throat culture swab to test for the bacteria.
Antibiotics Get You Well Fast
The strep test results will help your healthcare professional decide if you need antibiotics, which can:
You should start feeling better in a day or two after starting antibiotics. Call our office if you don't feel better after taking antibiotics for 48 hours. People with strep throat should stay home from work, school, or daycare until they have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours so they don't spread the infection.
Be sure to finish the entire prescription, even when you start feeling better, unless your provider tells you to stop taking the medicine. When you stop taking antibiotics early, you risk getting an infection later that is resistant to antibiotic treatment.
Wash your hands!
The best way to keep from getting strep throat is to wash your hands often and avoid sharing eating utensils, like forks or cups. It is especially important for anyone with a sore throat to wash their hands often and cover their mouth when coughing and sneezing.
Is It Strep Throat? (2014). Retrieved October 20th, 2014 from, http://www.cdc.gov/Features/StrepThroat/index.html