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What Do You Need to Know About Strep Throat?

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils that is more common in children than adults but does affect individuals of all ages. Commonly mistaken for a sore throat or common cold, especially during the winter season, strep throat accounts for only a fraction of sore throats. The CDC . estimates that about 20-30% of sore throats in children are caused by the strep bacteria, while in adults about 5-15% of sore throats are caused by the strep bacteria.

Symptoms of strep throat include:

  • A sore throat that comes on quickly 
  • Pain with swallowing
  • Fever
  • Red, swollen tonsils, sometimes with white specks
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of your mouth
  • Body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting, especially when it comes to younger children

Strep throat symptoms can closely resemble colds and viral infections, some of the signs that the infection might be viral and not strep include:

  • Cough 
  • Pink eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Runny nose

Is Strep Throat Contagious?

Yes, the bacteria that causes strep throat can spread easily from person to person through close contact. If left untreated, strep throat can be contagious for 2-3 weeks. However, individuals who do take antibiotics for strep throat usually are no longer contagious about 24-48 hours after initiating the medication. 

How is strep throat diagnosed and treated?

According to Mayo Clinic, it is possible for you to have multiple of these symptoms, but not have strep throat as colds and other viruses can also cause these symptoms. If you think you have strep throat, it is important that you visit your healthcare provider or urgent care to get tested. This is the only sure way to tell strep from other viruses that cause a sore throat.

Treatments for strep throat include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Rest
  • Over-the-counter medicines/remedies to ease symptoms

How Can I Prevent Strep Throat?

Wash your hands frequently and well to make it less likely that you will become infected by a bacteria or a virus. 

There’s no good reason to avoid medical attention when you suspect strep throat.

Call your doctor or book an urgent care appointment if you or a child in your care is experiencing these symptoms.

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