Recognizing and Treating Strep Throat this Spring

February 22, 2016

Strep throat, typically thought of as a cold-weather malady, is a bacterial infection in the throat and tonsils which causes irritation and inflammation that makes the throat extremely sore. It is caused by streptococcal bacteria and some cases are more severe than others. While strep bacteria can be present year around, it is most commonly seen from fall to early spring when the temperatures are lower than normal.

Strep throat, most commonly seen in school-age children and teenagers, passes easily from person to person and takes between 2-5 days to cause symptoms.

There’s quite a bit of discomfort with both strep throat and a sore throat, but a few symptoms may help diagnose whether or not a trip to the doctor is worth your while. Common symptoms of strep throat include a sudden, severe sore throat, pain with swallowing, a fever over 101 degrees, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes and white or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat.

Strep is usually treated with antibiotics, which shortens the period of time an infected person is contagious and lowers the risk of spreading the infection to other parts of the body.

There are a few things worth mentioning about strep throat:

  • About 15% of sore throats are diagnosed as strep.
  • Infected persons are contagious for as long as they have symptoms.
  • Strep travels through the air in tiny droplets from sneezes, coughs and even regular breathing.
  • In addition to antibiotics, it can help to drink extra fluids (including teas containing the herb licorice) and to increase the humidity in your home.
  • If left untreated strep can be dangerous. It can be associated with complications like kidney disorders and rheumatic fever. It can also spread to other parts of the body.

So, while we’ve had a warm winter, we’ve also seen several cases of strep. If you are in doubt and want someone to diagnose your sore throat, come in and see us. Our physicians are available seven days a week.

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