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About Strep throat
Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by a bacteria known as Group A streptococcus. Strep throat is highly contagious, especially among children.
- A sudden sore throat
- Pain when swallowing
- Red tonsils with white spots
- Swollen lymph glands
- Headache/ body aches
Strep throat does not cause a cough. A sore throat that is accompanied by coughing usually indicates a viral infection that is not strep throat.
If left untreated, strep throat can lead to problems such as kidney irritation or rheumatic fever. Talk to your doctor if you or your child is experiencing a sore throat accompanied by swollen lymph glands, a fever, or pain when swallowing. These are all indicators of the highly contagious strep bacteria.
Antibiotics are the most common form of treatment for strep throat. These medications minimize the duration and intensity of symptoms and the risk of complications related to strep throat (such as rheumatic fever). By killing the bacteria, antibiotics also help ensure that the infection is not spread to others.
You or your child should feel better in a day or two after starting therapy. If you haven't seen any improvement after taking antibiotics for 48 hours, contact your doctor.
Children who are feeling well and do not have a fever can generally return to school or child care after they are no longer infectious, which is usually 24 hours after starting treatment. Do not stop taking antibiotics, even if you are feeling better. If you stop too soon, the infection could recur and cause serious complications such as rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation.
In addition to antibiotics, pain relievers such as ibuprofen can help reduce throat pain.
Antibiotics are the most effective way of treating strep throat but may take a few days before you notice results. Until then, you can:
- Make sure you drink lots of water and soothing liquids. Drink water to prevent dehydration, and sip on warm tea with honey to lubricate and soothe the throat.
- Avoid spicy meals and foods that are acidic, such as orange juice. Eat easy-to-swallow foods such as broth, soup, cooked cereals, and pureed vegetables. Cold foods frozen yogurt may help soothe inflammation in the throat.
- Gargle warm salt water. Gargling warm (not hot) water several times a day can help alleviate throat discomfort in older children and adults. Use 8 ounces (237 milliliters) of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 grams) of table salt.
- Moisturize the air. Increasing the amount of moisture in the air can assist to alleviate pain. Use a cool-mist humidifier and clean it every day. Molds and bacterias can grow in some humidifiers, especially if they are not routinely cleaned.