As the school year starts, so does the spread of infections in the classroom. Strep throat is one of those infections children between the ages of 5-15 can bring home. Anyone, at any age, can become sick with strep throat.
Strep throat is a bacteria which affects the throat and tonsils. The bacteria is known as a group A streptococci or GAS. Streptococci bacteria are passed through mucus membranes and saliva.
Strep throat is contagious. If you have been exposed to someone who has strep throat, you may develop symptoms in 24-72 hours.
Symptoms of strep throat include:
• Sore throat
• Difficulty swallowing
• General ill feeling
• Loss of appetite
• Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the neck
• Tonsils are swollen and often covered with pus
• Roof of the mouth may have fine red lesions called petechiae
• Red throat, sometimes with white patches
• Abnormal taste
A health care practitioner can determine if you have strep by a throat culture where they swab the back of your throat. There are two types of throat cultures. One can determine strep throat in 15 minutes and the second type of culture takes 24-48 hours. A doctor may order a second culture if your first culture is inconclusive.
Strep throat treatment includes a ten-day course of antibiotics (amoxicillin or penicillin). It is recommended to take the full course of antibiotics even if your symptoms pass. If strep throat is not treated you may run the risk developing other health complications like sinusitis, ear infections, scarlet fever, etc.
A person infected with strep throat should not return to school or work until they have taken medication for a full 24 hours.
If you have a runny nose, cough and hoarseness, you may not have strep throat. However, you should consult your doctor if you have these symptoms because they may indicate an upper respiratory infection.
To sooth your strep throat, the U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends the following:
• Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges. Young children should not be given such products because they can choke on them.