Strep throat is the common name for streptococcal sore throat disease. Strep throat is commonly caused due to infection by gram-positive bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes. The disease is most common among children and adolescents in the age group of 5 to 15. The infection causes sudden inflammation of the throat and symptoms like intense pain, sore throat, and swollen tonsils.
Strep throat is communicable disease and spreads through infected nasal fluids and saliva. After the initial exposure, visible symptoms like sore throat and swollen tonsils distinguished for strep throat appear after three to four days. The strep throat infection commonly affects the pharynx and tonsils, which can be identified by symptoms of sore throat and swollen tonsils with white patches due to which swallowing becomes painful. The symptoms also include headache, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. Strep throat is often confused with sore throat caused due to common viral infections. The common symptoms for viral infection include coughing, sneezing, and runny nose whereas the symptoms of strep throat are sore throat with an absence of cough, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, and fever above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Strep throat can be diagnosed by the presence of common symptoms specific to streptococcal infection like sore throat, swollen tonsils, and fever. Rapid antigen detection test (RADT) is a fast detection method for this disease. Further confirmation of the symptoms can be done by taking swabs from the sore throat and swollen tonsils and culturing it by the process of throat culture. Once the infection is confirmed, it can be treated with the help of several combinations of antibiotics. A common treatment procedure involves administration of penicillin and amoxicillin for 10 days, failing which, the risk of transmission of the infection increases manifold. The antibiotics prevent the infection from spreading to other body parts. Apart from antibiotics, common remedial measures like gargling with salt water, drinking warm liquids like tea and coffee, inhaling cool mist from a vaporizer, and taking painkillers can provide temporary relief from the sore throat and swollen tonsils and augment the process of recovery.
It is imperative to complete the course of antibiotic dosage even after the symptoms of strep throat like sore throat and swollen tonsils ease because there is a high chance that the infection remains dormant inside the body. If there is a lack of proper treatment, strep throat may lead to further complications of kidney, tonsil, and sinus infections.
The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” rightfully describes that it is always better to know how to avoid getting strep throat in the first place. Strep throat is mainly transmitted through microdroplets of saliva and nasal discharge released into the air by an infected person while sneezing and coughing. The best way to prevent strep throat and its symptoms of sore throat, swollen tonsils, and fever is to follow common sanitary habits like washing hands and avoiding sharing of utensils and eatables with infected persons.
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