What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat (strep pyogenes) is a bacterial infection caused by Group A Streptococcus. It is one of the most common diseases in childhood, but it can also affect adults. Symptoms usually appear within 5 to 10 days after exposure to the bacteria. They include fever, sore throat, redness and swelling of the tonsils, headache, stomachache, and vomiting or diarrhea in some cases. The bacteria are spread through contact with saliva, either by sharing food or drinks or kissing.

Here are the causes and symptoms of strep throat.

What are the causes of strep throat?

The bacterial infection called streptococcus causes the inflammation and pain that characterize strep throat. It is a contagious illness spread by close contact with an infected person, especially through coughing and sneezing. Strep throat may also be transmitted through contaminated food or water or by touching contaminated surfaces. Most people with strep throat do not require hospitalization, but severe cases can result in rheumatic fever and other complications.

What are the symptoms of strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes sore throat, fever, and swollen tonsils. The pain and swelling can be so severe that swallowing becomes difficult, which is why you might also notice painful swallowing or trouble breathing. These symptoms are caused by the reaction of your immune system to the bacteria in your throat.

What Happens If Strep Throat Isn’t Treated?

If you don’t seek strep throat treatment, your lymph nodes may swell up, your tonsils may become very swollen and red, and you may develop kidney disease or a condition called rheumatic heart disease. However, most cases of strep throat are easily treated with antibiotics like penicillin.

How is Strep Throat Treated?

Most doctors prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin and erythromycin to treat strep throat. The type of antibiotic used depends on the type of bacterial infection present. Its effectiveness is determined by how long you take it. In general, it needs to be taken for ten days. Some types need to be taken for up to 14 days. If you stop taking the antibiotics prematurely, you risk not killing all the bacteria that caused the infection. The result may be the infection coming back in full force or making sure you pass it along to others who haven’t been vaccinated against strep throat and can become seriously ill as a result.

How to Prevent Strep Throat?

  1. Clean your hands: The strep bacteria spread through direct contact with another person’s respiratory secretions, otherwise known as spit. Always wash your hands thoroughly and use antibacterial soap or sanitizer if necessary.
  2. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing: This prevents the bacteria from spreading. You can even wear a paper mask as a precaution, though this shouldn’t be necessary in most cases.
  3. Get vaccinated: If you’re prone to getting strep throat, get a vaccination every year so your body will recognize the symptoms and fight against it more quickly if you become infected by the bacteria.
  4. Stay away from sick people: If someone close to you is showing signs of strep throat, avoid them and don’t share any objects with them until they’ve been treated for the disease or until their symptoms have passed.

Key Takeaway

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the tonsils, and it can be very uncomfortable. In some cases, it can even lead to rheumatic fever or other complications. It’s important to treat strep throat as soon as possible.

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