Strep Throat – Can It Be Prevented?

rapid strep test

While sore throats are common and usually occur due to a virus, strep throats are less common and occur due to the attack of bacteria. If your throat feels scratchy or you have a terrible or sudden headache, you might be experiencing strep throat. This bacterial infection is contagious, so be careful if you notice the symptoms. Read ahead to find out just what you need to do.

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is an infection caused by bacteria that is contagious and can lead to a sore throat, fever, and headaches. It occurs due to Group A strep, a bacteria invading your throat and causing infection. Its symptoms are easily detectable, and immediate treatment can prevent them from worsening.

Signs and Symptoms

It is simple to configure the symptoms of strep throat. The most common signs and symptoms include:

  • A sore throat
  • A sudden fever that measures 38˚c or higher
  • Headaches and feeling fidgety
  • White spots appearing on the tongue or the tonsils
  • The lymph nodes on the front of the neck swelling up
  • The tongue turning a bright red
  • Petechiae or red spots appearing on the roof of the mouth
  • The affected could have issues swallowing food
  • Rashes appearing on the body
  • Feeling sleepy all the time
  • Having stomachaches, losing appetite
  • Nausea, and vomiting

Sore throats are the first signs of strep throat, so once you get one, you must be careful. If you also have a fever of about 38˚C or higher and are unaccompanied by coughing, go to a doctor to get yourself checked. Also, try your best to stay away from others as the infection is contagious.

However, these symptoms could be the result of some other viral infection. Coughing, having a runny nose, and having a raspy or hoarse voice are indicators that you are probably not going through strep throat. It is best to refer a doctor to help you confirm your case.

Lab Testing

Other Complications

  • If left untreated, strep can spread from the throat and into the sinuses, blood, skin, or middle ear
  • It can also result in scarlet fever with a noticeable rash that appears on the body
  • It can lead to many different types of inflammations. For example, it can result in rheumatic fever, which can put the heart valves at risk, or result in inflamed joints, or a peculiar rash
  • It can also lead to kidney inflammation
  • It Could Also Result In Joint Inflammation In Post-Streptococcal Reactive Arthritis

How Long Does Strep Throat Last?

While the symptoms start to show themselves within the first 3 days and then start to decrease, you can get rid of strep throat completely in 7 to 10 days. Of course, taking antibiotics lessens the recovery time.

Can Strep Throat Be Prevented?

It is best to prevent the onset of the infection than go to the doctor and undergo treatment. Here are a few preventive measures that everyone should observe regularly.

  • Wash your hands all the time, especially before eating. We tend to touch dirty surfaces, such as door knobs, mobile screens, and keys. These contain bacteria that could transfer to our mouths and cause complications. Use soap and water to wash hands for twenty seconds or use a sanitizer.
  • Sneeze into a tissue and discard it immediately and wash your hands. Did you know that sneezing can carry droplets to a massive distance of up to 23 to 27 feet? If a tissue is unavailable, sneeze into your elbow.

However, the signs or symptoms may not be visible in some people. While they do not consider themselves ill, the bacteria still exists in its active form, making them capable of passing the infection to someone else.

Diagnostic Measures

Once you visit the clinic, the doctor will check you for any symptoms. If the symptoms match those of strep throat, the doctor will ask you to get tested.

The type of tests include:

Rapid Strep Tests

Rapid Strep tests are also known as rapid antigen tests. If group A strep were to exist in the throat in its active form, the body’s immune system would have reacted by producing antigens to rid the body of bacteria. A rapid strep test detects the presence of such antigens. With this rapid strep test, you can get results in minutes.

Throat Culture Test

In some cases, the rapid strep test gives a false result, so doctors opt for this test. Even though it tests accurately, its shortcoming is that it takes one or two days to give results.

Nucleic Acid Tests

Some doctors also recommend nucleic acid tests for detecting the presence of strep that work by discerning group A strep DNA. However, the test is costly.

How Is A Rapid Strep Test Carried Out?

The infected person tilts his head back and opens his mouth as wide as possible. Then, a medical professional uses a tongue depressor to hold back the tongue and places a clean swab on the back of the throat. He sends the sample on the swab to be tested for Group A strep. A rapid strep test is easy and quick. The only discomfort you feel is the slight gagging sensation when the swab touches the back of your throat.

Treatment

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a few antibiotics for septic throat treatment. Consumed orally, these antibiotics include:

  • Penicillin
  • Amoxicillin
  • Cephalexin
  • Cefadroxil
  • Clindamycin
  • Clarithromycin
  • Azithromycin

Doctors assign these antibiotics to shorten the illness, prevent further spread of the bacteria, and minimize the symptoms. You must, however, ensure you complete the antibiotic course to prevent stronger resistance to the bacteria.

How is the Bacterial Infection Caused?

Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus pyogenes is a specie of bacteria that inhibits the nose and the throat. It is commonly known as group A strep.

How Does The Strep Infection Spread?

There are many ways in which the strep infection can spread:

  • When a person with strep throat sneezes or coughs, and the infected droplets enter your nose, mouth, or eyes, you may become infected too.
  • Sharing food, drinks, or utensils with a person going through a strep throat infection can result in you catching one too. In such a case, the bacteria become active.
  • Touching some things with these germs and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. That is why you should not let kids put anything in their mouths.

Risk Factors

Strep throat can occur both in younger children and adults. However, it commonly occurs in children between 5 to 15 years and is less likely to occur in children below three years of age. In adults, people below are more prone to the disease.

It is not dependent on the time of the year, but during winters or the beginning of spring, the rate of transmission of the bacterial infection may arise.

When a group of people interacts and stays close, the risk of infection increases, especially among children in a group. Schools and daycare centers face this issue.

See Also: Symptoms And Treatment For Flea Bites On Humans

Get an Appointment with a Doctor Immediately

If you are facing difficulty swallowing, having terrible and sudden headaches, or undergoing a fever or sore throat, you should get a rapid strep test immediately. Family Medicine Austin has many lab testing services available.

Family Medicine Austin

Written by Jeannette

I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.