Strep Throat

Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the throat caused by the group A Streptococcus bacteria. Children between the ages of 5 and 15 are commonly affected, but strep throat can affect people of all ages. If left untreated, strep throat can cause kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.

Causes of Strep Throat

Strep throat may be caused by the following:

  • Streptococcus bacteria
  • Shared food or drink
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Contact with contaminated surfaces

Symptoms of Strep Throat

Symptoms of strep throat may include:

  • Sore throat pain
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Red spots on the mouth palate
  • White patches in the back of the throat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Swallowing difficulty

Diagnosis of Strep Throat

Strep throat is usually diagnosed during a physical examination. Lab tests will be conducted to determine whether or not the infection is viral or bacterial. The tests may be one of the following:

  • Throat culture
  • Rapid strep test
  • Rapid DNA test

If a rapid test is conducted and the result is negative, a throat culture may be performed to verify the results.

Treatment of Strep Throat

Bacterial strep throat is treated with antibiotics to prevent complications. If there is no relief after taking the antibiotics for 24 to 48 hours, the doctor should be contacted. To help soothe the sore throat, patients may try the following:

  • Warm liquids
  • Gargling with warm salt water
  • Cold liquids
  • Ice pops
  • Lozenges
  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Cool mist humidifier

Additional Resources