Although strep throat is not the most common cause of sore throat, it is one of the most painful. Other distinguishing characteristics of strep include swollen lymph nodes and a red mouth rash, in addition to obvious discomfort.
If you have a bacterial infection known as strep throat, your throat may feel scratchy and raw. Streptococcus is only a minor contributor to sore throats.
Strep throat can cause issues like kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever if it is not treated. Rheumatic fever symptoms can include a particular type of rash, heart valve damage, and painful, inflamed joints.
Children are most frequently affected by strep throat, although it can happen to anybody. Consult your doctor right away for testing and treatment if you or your kid exhibit any strep throat symptoms.
Group A Streptococcus pyogenes is a type of bacteria that causes strep throat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the infection is most prevalent in children between the ages of 5 and 15 years old (CDC). Parents of children in this age group and adults who are frequently around children have a higher risk of illness.
Untreated strep can result in significant issues such as sepsis, blood poisoning, rheumatic fever, heart valve damage, and rheumatic pain.
The good news is that, if strep throat is accurately identified, it is simple to treat with antibiotics. It would not be ideal, according to Aaron Prussin, MD, assistant professor of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Utah School of Medicine, if someone delayed seeking a diagnosis and later developed difficulties. Antibiotics, according to the CDC, should make a strep patient feel better in a day or two. Complications can be avoided with prompt identification and treatment.
Recognize these strep throat symptoms so you can treat them quickly.
Unsurprisingly, strep throat is characterized by a burning sore throat, which is frequently one of the first symptoms. It hurts to swallow when one has a sore throat.
Numerous other conditions, most notably upper respiratory infections like colds or tonsillitis, can also be indicated by sore throats. This makes differentiating between them challenging, but not impossible.
The typical onset and duration of strep throat soreness are longer than a day or two. Additionally, it doesn’t manifest itself as a cold would, such as with a cough, runny or stuffy nose, or hoarseness. According to the CDC, it typically takes two days for someone to develop symptoms of strep throat after exposure.
Dr. Michael Grosso, medical director and acting chair of pediatrics at Huntington Hospital in New York, noted that none of those other symptoms are normally present with a streptococcal sore throat.
The duration of strep may be shortened by antibiotics, typically those in the penicillin class. According to the CDC, they may also prevent more severe side effects such as abscesses, sinus and ear infections, and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a rare kidney illness).
Enlarged lymph nodes
In addition to containing bacteria and viruses, lymph nodes help with a cancer diagnosis. You might be able to feel the sore, swollen lymph nodes in your neck when you have strep throat by lightly touching the region.
Another common indicator of strep throat is a fever. Dr. Rupp claims that it is one of “a constellation of symptoms physicians have traditionally been trained to look for that are more diagnostic of strep throat.”
Because a sore throat caused by a cold usually does not raise body temperature, a fever can help distinguish strep from that condition. In order to rule out viral upper respiratory infections, Dr. Rupp noted that they look for the absence of symptoms like cough and nasal congestion.
Despite having a wide range of symptoms, strep is contagious through droplets produced by coughing or sneezing, just like colds and other respiratory illnesses. If you are exposed to those drops, you could contract the virus. By constantly washing your hands and refraining from touching your face, you can prevent the transmission of strep.
The CDC encourages people with strep throat to avoid going to work or school until their fever has gone down and they have been taking antibiotics for at least 12 hours in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Tonsils are inflamed.
The tonsils, which are lymph nodes in the back of the mouth, are also swollen with strep throat.
The fact that your tonsils are larger than usual should be obvious when you look at the back of your throat. “Open your mouth wide and shine a light into it directly or bounce it off a mirror,” advised Dr. Rupp. The tonsils could also have white patches or streaks on them in addition to looking red.
Strep can still happen to those lacking tonsils, albeit less commonly.
Having the tonsils removed is commonly advised by doctors if a patient frequently contracts strep. According to Dr. Prussin, this likely indicates that germs are simply lazing around in the tonsils. According to Dr. Prussin, you might be a good candidate for the surgery if you’ve had three strep infections annually for the previous three years, five infections annually for the previous two years, or a whopping seven infections in the most recent year. However, these guidelines can vary from person to person.
Rash or spots of redness
When someone has strep throat, a red rash known as petechiae frequently develops on the rear of the roof of the mouth. Dr. Grosso declared, “We can state with a reasonably high degree of certainty that we’re looking at strep when we see the spots on the roof of the mouth.” The CDC refers to a rapid antigen detection test (RADT) plus a throat culture as “the gold standard diagnostic test” when someone exhibits symptoms of strep, but you still need a lab-confirmed diagnosis.
Scarlet fever, also caused by the group A strep bacterium, is a red skin rash that can coexist with strep throat. This is distinct from scarlet fever, which was a major factor in child fatalities in the 18th and 19th centuries. Dr. Grosso remarked, “That’s not the clinical behavior of the illness we see today.” A course of antibiotics should help the mild form of scarlet fever associated with strep throat disappear quickly.
Vomiting and irritation
Vomiting and nausea are unusual side effects of strep throat. The likelihood of younger children experiencing them is higher if they do.
Viral infections rather than bacterial infections like strep are more likely to be the cause of nausea and vomiting, says Philip G. Chen, MD, assistant professor and program director of rhinology in the department of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center.
But everyone’s strep throat experience varies a little bit. Dr. Chen claims that while your immune system gets ready to fight an infection, your body creates chemicals. Numerous symptoms, such as tiredness, nausea, vomiting, fever, and others, might be brought on by these compounds. “Discuss the details of your symptoms with your doctor.”
Another potential sign of strep throat is headaches, particularly in children older than 3. Again, a lab test and the presence of additional strep throat symptoms can confirm this.
It’s more likely that your headache has some other cause if you don’t have a sore throat. Dr. Grosso advised against performing tests in cases where strep is unlikely to be the cause. Overtesting may result in antibiotic overuse in treatment. When bacterial strains develop resistance to treatment, excessive usage of these medications can contribute to antibiotic resistance.