We all experience that familiar scratchy painful sensation in our throats. When it attacks us, swallowing without pain is sometimes impossible and it leaves us feeling miserable. This uncomfortable pain is usually a harmless sore throat but sometimes the cause of the soreness can be from the more serious strep throat. Knowing the difference between the two will help you get proper treatment and recover faster.
Strep and Sore Defined
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria, it spreads through direct interaction with an infected person. If you come in contact with a sick person's cough droplets or sneeze sprays, there is a great chance the bacteria will spread to you. Sharing a cup, glass, or any other utensils with an infected person will surely increase your risk of catching the bacteria. Sometimes Streptococcus can live in a person's nose or throat and not produce any symptoms, in this situation an innocent kiss came make you ill. The bacteria can also be transmitted through the direct contact with sores from a group A strep skin infection.
A regular sore throat is commonly caused by a viral infection and is usually the beginning stages of a cold or flu. This type of infection is mostly accompanied by a runny nose, sneezing and watery eyes. Beside a virus, a sore throat can come from smoking, dry air, air pollution allergies, and straining the muscles in your throat. Viral infections usually clear up on their own, however Strep requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent possible complications.
What To Look Out For
Both the viral and bacterial infections will cause you to have irritation in your throat, therefore not everyone who feels this discomfort is suffering from strep. If you experience a sudden pain in your throat without a runny nose or any other cold like symptoms it could be strep. Most people claim to go to bed feeling fine the night before but wake up with an intense pain in their throat and not being able to swallow. Strep throat will also come with a high fever, loss of appetite, white spots on your tongue, swollen lymph nodes and sometimes even a rash. If you are experiencing any of these factors along with pain in your throat, you may be dealing with strep and it's time to see your doctor.
To test for the group A Streptococcus bacteria, doctors will do a physical examination. He or she will feel your glands, inspect the back of your throat with a small flash light, and swab your throat with a long cotton swab. The sample will then be sent to the lab for analyzing and if the results are positive your doctor will start you on medication right away.
Antibiotics are giving to people with strep throat, they kill the bacteria and prevent you from infecting others. Your doctor may also suggest taking over the counter items such as Tylenol and cough drops. The Tylenol will help reduce your fever and the cough drops will sooth your throat until the antibiotics begin to work. People who start on antibiotics say they feel better within a day. If strep is left untreated it will take about two weeks for an infected person to improve in health, it can also cause complications.
Strep throat is not dangerous, but it can lead to other serious issues if left untreated. The bacteria can spread and cause infections in your : sinuses, blood, tonsils, middle ear and skin. Your body immune system may start to attack healthy tissues, this is known as Rheumatic fever and it can damage your heart valves. Untreated strep may also affect your kidneys and lead to pneumonia. If you believe you are suffering from strep throat do not hesitate to visit your doctor, the antibiotics will have you feeling better in no time and you will not infect anyone else.
Trouble swallowing Trouble swallowing
High fever Cold like symptoms, runny nose
Redness and white spots Redness
Swollen Lymph nodes
Loss of appetite