What is it?
Strep throat is an infection of the throat caused by bacteria called streptococcus. There are different types of streptococci. The type that causes serious sore throats and needs to be treated with antibiotics is a Group A streptococcus. Strep throat infections are very contagious. They are usually passed directly from person to person. Strep throat is common in school-age children. Children under 2 years old and adults not exposed to children are much less likely to get strep throat.
What are the symptoms?
Signs and symptoms of strep throat can include: * Throat pain that usually comes on quickly * Painful swallowing * Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus * Tiny red spots on the area at the back of the roof of the mouth (soft or hard palate) * Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck * Fever * Headache * Rash * Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children * Body aches It’s possible for you or your child to have many of these signs and symptoms but not have strep throat. The cause of these signs and symptoms could be a viral infection or some other illness. That’s why your doctor generally tests specifically for strep throat. It’s also possible for you to be exposed to a person who carries strep but shows no symptoms.
- Get plenty of rest. Sleep helps your body fight infection. If you have strep throat, stay home from work if you can. If your child is ill, keep him or her at home until there’s no sign of fever, and he or she feels better and has taken an antibiotic for at least 24 hours.
- Drink plenty of water. Keeping a sore throat lubricated and moist eases swallowing and helps prevent dehydration.
- Eat soothing foods. Easy-to-swallow foods include broths, soups, applesauce, cooked cereal, mashed potatoes, soft fruits, yogurt and soft-cooked eggs. You can puree foods in a blender to make them easier to swallow. Cold foods, such as sherbet, frozen yogurt or frozen fruit pops also may be soothing.
- Gargle with warm salt water. For older children and adults, gargling several times a day can help relieve throat pain. Mix 1⁄4 teaspoon (1.42 grams) of table salt in 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water. Be sure to tell your child to spit out the liquid after gargling.
- Use a humidifier. Adding moisture to the air can help ease discomfort. Choose a cool-mist humidifier and clean it daily because bacteria and molds can flourish in some humidifiers. Saline nasal sprays also help to keep mucous membranes moist.
- Stay away from irritants. Cigarette smoke can irritate a sore throat and increase the likelihood of infections such as tonsillitis. Avoid fumes from paint or cleaning products, which can irritate throat and lungs.
- Avoid spicy foods or acidic foods such as orange juice.
Things to watch out for
GP should be contacted if the symptoms of Strep throat are persistent, they may prescribe a short course of antibiotics.