Updated: January 26, 2018
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. The infection will cause inflammation and pain in the throat which can make you feel as if your throat is sore and scratchy.
If there is presence of a persistent sore throat and a lack of improvement after taking antibiotics, a physical examination will be done by your doctor to look for signs and symptoms of strep throat. He will check for signs of inflammation, may also check your neck for swollen lymph nodes and ask about other symptoms. Along with the physical examination the doctor will probably order one or more of the following tests:
Whether your sore throat is caused by a strep infection or another type of bacteria or germ can be determined by this test. A rapid antigen test can be performed by collecting a sample with a long cotton swab from swabs the back of your throat. By looking for substances called antigens in the throat, signs of bacteria can be determined in a lab with in minutes. If the test is negative but still strep is suspected, then a throat culture can be done.
In this test a sterile swab is rubbed over the back of the throat and tonsils to get a sample of the secretions. It is not painful, but may cause gagging. The sample is then cultured in a laboratory for the presence of bacteria. It may take two or more days to get appropriate result.
Medications and antibiotics are available to cure strep throat, relieve its symptoms, and prevent its complications and spread. If the antibiotics are taken within 48 hours of the onset of the strep throat, it can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms, as well as the risk of complications and spread of infection to others. Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common medications given for a strep infection. It is important to finish your antibiotic treatment course to kill the infection completely and avoid to recurrences and serious complications, such as rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation.
Some people stop taking their medication when symptoms improve, which can worsen the condition when the symptoms reoccur. Children are no longer contagious after 24 hours of beginning the treatment and can return to school or child care.
Call your doctor if there is no improvement after taking antibiotics for 48 hours. Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be advised to relieve throat pain and reduce fever.
Children and teenagers recovering from chickenpox or flu-like symptoms should never take aspirin. This is because aspirin can be a cause of Reye's syndrome, a rare but potentially life-threatening condition, in such children.
You can try the below tips to relieve symptoms of strep throat:
Keep your sore throat lubricated and moist so that it will eases swallowing and helps prevent dehydration. You can drink warm liquids, such as lemon water and tea.
Broths, soups, applesauce, cooked cereal, mashed potatoes, soft fruits, yogurt and soft-cooked eggs are some of the food which are easy to swallow. You can puree foods in a blender to make them easier to swallow. Avoid spicy foods or acidic foods such as orange juice.
It is advisable to stay home and take complete rest if you have strep throat as sleep helps your body fight infection. Keep your child at home until there is no sign of fever, and he or she feels better and has taken an antibiotic for at least 24 hours, if he or she has strep throat.
For older children and adults, gargling several times a day with warm salt water can help relieve throat pain. You can mix 1/4 teaspoon of table salt in 8 ounces of warm water for gargling. Be sure that your child should spit out the liquid after gargling.
Cigarette smoke, fumes from paint or cleaning products can irritate a sore throat and increase the risk of infections such as tonsillitis. Avoid these irritants which can irritate throats and lungs.
Adding moisture to the air can help ease discomfort. Choose a cool-mist humidifier and clean it daily because bacteria and molds can flourish in some humidifiers.
Saline nasal sprays can also help to keep mucous membranes moist.