Woman coughingThe winter season is a common time for almost everyone to have a runny or stuffy nose, a hoarse cough, or a sore throat.  Many things can cause the painful condition of a sore throat such as bacteria, allergens, cigarette smoke, or other viral infections.

A sore throat is usually the first sign of a cold, and is easily treatable with bed rest, over-the-counter medicine, and drinking plenty of hot fluids.  While some remedies can cure a sore throat, some throat infections like strep throat, require antibiotics.

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection in the throat area.  The throat gets irritated and inflamed, which causes a severe sore throat.

It is most common amongst young children and adolescents, but anyone who encounters someone who has strep throat is susceptible to becoming ill.

What causes strep throat?

Group A Streptocccusbacteria (group A strep) is the main cause of strep throat. The bacteria can live in a person’s nose or throat without causing illness.  When a person breathes, coughs, or sneezes, they release droplets of the bacteria into the air and on surfaces.  The bacteria usually spread when you touch your mouth, eyes, or nose after coming in contact with a sick person or touching surfaces that may contain the bacteria.

What are the symptoms of strep throat?

When you come in contact with strep, it may take two to five days before you have noticeable symptoms.  Some symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sore/dry throat
  • Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes
  • Hoarseness or loss of voice
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach
  • High fever (over 101° F)
  • White or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat

When should you seek medical attention?

If your symptoms of a sore throat are very severe and last longer than a week, you may want to seek medical attention.  A physician will examine your throat and if you are diagnosed with strep throat, they will prescribe you an antibiotic and offer medical information about treatment and prevention.  And if you’re diagnosed with strep throat, it is best to stay home and avoid contact with others for at least 24 hours after you started your antibiotics.

What are ways I can prevent myself from getting strep throat?

The best way to prevent contracting and spreading strep throat is avoiding sharing eating utensils and sharing drinks.  Another way to prevent picking up bacteria that causes viruses like strep throat is to sanitize areas such as kitchen table tops, doorknobs, as germs can live on surfaces for days at a time.  Regular hand washing is another great way to prevent picking up germs.

 

If you believe you may have strep throat, be sure to visit us at AFC Urgent Care!  One of our physicians can examine you to determine if you have strep throat, and we can also treat your symptoms of strep throat.  We can provide you with antibiotics that will help you get better in no time.  Just stop by our walk-in center any day of the week!