Sore throat is a common symptom in various ailments. One can experience a sore throat in milder cases of flu and more serious situations such as laryngitis. One ailment that shares such symptom is a strep throat. How can a person know is his sore throat strep or not when its symptoms are pretty much the same with that of common flu? There are many ways to find out.
What strep throat is
The first thing that should be done is to gain a basic understanding when a sore throat is considered strep. Strep throat is essentially a common infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus. It primarily affects the throat where inflammation occurs. The inflammation causes the pain when speaking or when swallowing. This condition can hit practically anyone no matter the age nor the gender. However, children and adolescents with ages ranging from four to fifteen have a higher risk of developing a strep throat. This infection is highly communicable and is an airborne disease. Bacteria can spread when a patient talks, sneezes, coughs, or spews secretions into the air may it be through the nose or through the mouth. It usually develops three to five days after exposure to the bacteria.
Strep throat symptoms
Knowing the strep throat symptoms will allow a person to distinguish between a sore throat strep from common flu. One must remember that the severity of symptoms usually varies among patients. It would depend on factors like the condition of his/her immune system, pre-existing conditions that may make a person more susceptible to develop a sore throat strep, or the time frame from developing the illness to correct diagnosis and consequent appropriate intervention. The most common strep throat symptoms include:
- Sore throat with inflammation and observable white spots around the throat
- Sudden onset of high fever
- Swollen lymph nodes (proof of the infection)
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in swallowing or talking
If most of these are being exhibited by the patient, there is a big chance that he/she might have developed a sore throat strep.
Strep Throat Diagnosis
It should be the doctor who can definitively diagnose if it really is sore throat strep or not. This is because strep throat symptoms are not solely exclusive to a strep throat condition. It could just be a common flu or it could be more serious like tonsillitis, for example. That is why it is best to consult a doctor for a proper diagnosis because this will lead to appropriate intervention. A sore throat strep can be really painful so it is imperative that the condition is responded to at the most immediate time. How is a strep throat diagnosed exactly? Apart from the routine checkup, the doctor usually takes swab samples from the back of your throat and send it to the laboratory for testing. This test would identify if there is a presence of bacteria in your throat and their type. This would either confirm or rule out if the patient has developed a strep throat or not.
Strep Throat Treatment
There are no known home remedies for treating a sore throat strep. Sure, one can use natural remedies to alleviate the pain but the root cause, which is the bacteria, will continue to thrive. Medical intervention is needed to ensure that the bacteria are dealt with immediately and effectively especially since this disease is airborne.
Part of the usual treatment would be antibiotics. Since these are not available over the counter, one has to have a doctor’s prescription in order to get the right medication and dosage. Antibiotics essentially neutralize the bacteria that cause the infection as well as inhibit their growth. Patients have to take prescribed antibiotics for the entire duration as recommended by the physician. Failure to do so might cause a recurrence of a strep throat.
As stated earlier, there is no home remedy that is potent enough to get rid of the bacteria except for antibiotics. However, there are some ways that you can alleviate the pain because a sore throat strep is notorious for the discomfort it causes. Here are some of the ways that you can manage the pain from a strep throat:
- Intermittent drinking of warm and cold liquid. The warm liquid soothes. The cold liquid numbs. Make sure there is ample time between taking liquids like water, water infused with lemon extract, and tea of opposite temperatures. Taking both in quick succession might irritate the throat even more thus doing more harm than good.
- If the pain becomes too much and no amount of liquid can relieve it, you might resort to over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen. Just be careful with the dosage. Usually, doctors include painkillers in their prescription apart from the antibiotics.
- You can also gargle a mixture of a cup of warm water and ½ teaspoon of salt. This is a typical home remedy for a sore throat.
- There are also throat lozenges that can give immediate relief.
When to see the doctor
With the right antibiotics, ample rest, and hydration, sore throat strep symptoms would gradually recede in a week’s time. For those with relatively stronger immune system might even be able to bounce back in three days. They may not yet be fully healed but they already exhibit palpable improvement. However, if symptoms persist or worsen after a week, the patient must return to the doctor for more tests. If not, complications such as pus developing in the back of the tonsils or inflammation of kidneys might develop and would be harder to treat. Take note of your symptoms and act accordingly.
Strep throat, while common, can be a life-threatening disease without proper intervention. Once the symptoms manifest themselves, the person must seek medical advice for correct diagnosis and appropriate medication. Just a word of caution: if there is no clear improvement after two to three days of taking the prescribed antibiotics, you might want to return to your doctor. Such medication might not be in sync with your needs. You might respond better to another type or brand of antibiotics.