Strep Throat

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What is it?

This disease is also known as streptococcal tonsillitis, streptococcal sore throat or streptococcal pharyngitis. It is contagious. It is a pharyngitis created by a group A streptococcal infection. The tonsils, pharynx and the larynx are affected.

Causes

Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (a bacteria) is what produces strep throat. It can also be caused by other bacteria such as fusobacterium and non-group A beta-hemolytic streptococci.

Close and direct contact is what leads to strep throat spreading. WebMD states that sneezing, coughing and breathing are all ways that the strep bacteria can become airborne and affect others. So in crowded places like schools or work strep throat can be passed on quite quickly. Also, make sure to throw out your toothbrush if you think you have strep throat as moist bacteria can live up to 15 days on average. Strep throat can also be passed by carriers. That is to say, people who are not sick can be carrying around the bacteria in their pharynx and not even know it.

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Symptoms

Signs that you may have strep throat include: fever, sore throat, big lymph nodes and tonsil secretion. If you don’t have a fever it is very unlikely that you have strep throat. Other symptoms can include: vomiting, headache, nausea, muscle pain, scarlatiniform rash, abdominal pain. After coming into contact with the bacteria that causes strep throat, it can take up to 3 days to show any symptoms. WebMD says that it is common for people who have a sore throat to automatically assume it’s strep throat. However, most of the time it is a virus-caused sore throat and not the bacteria-caused strep.

Diagnosis

There is a test called the Centor Criteria which helps to determine whether or not someone has strep throat. There are 5 criteria: swollen/tender lymph nodes, swollen tonsils, no cough, temperature at 38 degrees or higher, and 15 years of age or younger. Each criteria gets one point.

Getting your throat swabbed for throat culture is another good way of diagnosing strep throat. There are basically two kinds of throat swabs: the throat swab that is sent to a lab and the patient waits for the results or a swab that is taken in a doctor’s office, which may provide results that are not as reliable. Apparently, as WebMD suggests, doctors will often perform both types of throat swabs.

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Treatment

There is a popular preventative measure in battling strep throat removing the tonsils. There is speculation as to whether or not it is actually worth having surgery to remove the tonsils as it only slightly decreases the chances of getting strep throat in the future. Also, as an individual ages, the chances of getting strep throat become less and less prevalent.

If strep throat is acquired in someone who has had their tonsils removed, then the drug penicillin can be taken. For those who are allergic to penicillin the drugs clindamycin or macrolides can be substituted.