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Strep Throat

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Strep Throat


CDC. (2022, January 14). Is your sore throat strep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mayo Clinic. (2018). Strep throat - symptoms and causes. Mayo Clinic.

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus. It can make your throat feel sore and scratchy causing painful swallowing and swell up lymph nodes in your neck.

Strep throat is most commonly found in children but affects people of all ages. If left untreated, strep throat can cause complications such as kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever which can lead to painful and flamed joints, rash or heart valve damage.

Group A strep live in the nose and throat and can easily be spread to other people. Those infected spread the bacteria by talking, coughing, or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets containing the bacteria. They can also spread the bacteria from infected sores on their skin. It takes approximately 2 to 5 days for someone exposed to group A strep to become ill with strep throat. As with many viruses, there are some infected people who do not feel sick or experience symptoms. Those who are sick with strep throat and are experiencing symptoms are more contagious than those who are asymptomatic (CDC, 2022).

Signs and symptoms of strep throat can include:

  • Throat pain that usually comes on quickly

  • Painful swallowing

  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus

  • Tiny red spots on the area at the back of the roof of the mouth (soft or hard palate)

  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck

  • Fever

  • Headache

  • Rash

  • Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children

  • Body aches

If your provider thinks you may have strep throat, they will swab your throat for a test. There are 2 types of tests that are done for strep throat: a rapid strep test and a throat culture.

A rapid strep test involves swabbing the throat and running a test on the swab. The test quickly shows if group A strep is causing the illness. If the test is positive, doctors can prescribe antibiotics. If the test is negative, but a doctor still suspects strep throat, then the doctor can take a throat culture swab. A throat culture takes time to see if group A strep bacteria grow from the swab. While it takes more time, a throat culture sometimes finds infections that the rapid strep test misses. Culture is important to use in children and teens since they can get rheumatic fever from an untreated strep throat infection. For adults, it is usually not necessary to do a throat culture following a negative rapid strep test. Adults are generally not at risk of getting rheumatic fever following a strep throat infection (CDC, 2022).

To prevent group A strep infections, you should:

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

  • Put your used tissue in the wastebasket.

  • Cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands, if you don’t have a tissue.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Use an alcohol-based hand rub if soap and water are not available.

You should also wash glasses, utensils, and plates after someone who is sick uses them. These items are safe for others to use once washed.

Talk to your healthcare provider if you think you or a family member may have strep throat. The CCH Walk-in Clinic is also an available resource when you are showing signs or symptoms of strep throat. The Walk-in Clinic is open from 8 am- 8 pm on weekdays and 8 am-6 pm on weekends.

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  • Category: Campbell County Medical Group Walk-In Clinic & Occupational Health