A sore throat can be the result of many things, including allergies and colds, which tend to resolve over time or with over-the-counter medications. However, if your sore throat feels worse than usual or appears suddenly, a strep infection may be the cause. Strep throat is more common in children and teens, but adults are also at risk, especially if they have school-aged children. Group A streptococcus bacteria, which lives in the nose and throat, causes strep infection.
The symptoms of strep can vary between adults and children, but the most common symptom is a sore throat that comes on suddenly. When someone gets strep, they may also quickly develop a fever. Other symptoms may include the following:
A child with a sore throat, fever, and runny nose likely has a virus instead of a strep infection.
The streptococcal bacterium is contagious and spreads through droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Strep can spread when people share cutlery and other personal items. The bacterium also stays on surfaces where people can pick it up and transfer it to their nose or mouth. Strep throat is more common during winter and the beginning of spring.
When a doctor tests for strep, they take a throat swab to do a rapid strep test. While rapid tests reveal the diagnosis fast, usually within 10 minutes, they can also give false-negative results.
If a rapid strep test comes back negative, but a doctor still suspects strep, they may do a throat culture test. It can take up to 48 hours to get the test results.
Treating strep relies on a course of antibiotics. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics are amoxicillin and penicillin. Most cases of strep throat get better within a week, but patients must take an entire course of antibiotics to prevent a recurrence of the infection.
Strep is uncomfortable, especially for children. The following tips may help relieve throat pain:
If strep is left untreated, the infection can lead to severe complications, such as tonsil abscesses, kidney disease, psoriasis, rheumatic fever, and scarlet fever.
People with strep should stay home for at least 24 hours after starting antibiotics to avoid spreading the infection to others. If more than one family member has strep throat, they should not share items like towels and toothbrushes. Each person should get a new toothbrush just before the course of antibiotics is complete.
Regular hand washing, disposing of tissues immediately, and not touching the face also help prevent strep.
As one of the only health systems in Cape Coral with ER and urgent care services under one roof, ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care offers affordable pricing, quality care, and trained staff. Patients are only billed based on the level of care received, and no appointments are needed for in-person visits. The ER is available 24 hours a day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care-Cape Coral, a department of ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte, is located at 2521 Del Prado Blvd. N. in Cape Coral and may be reached at 239-356-0740.