Strep throat symptoms like throat irritation should not be ignored because they are an indication of bacterial infection and a contagious disease. Strep throat, basically a group A streptococcal infection particularly affects the pharynx and it’s known as pharyngitis. In some cases it may also affect the larynx and tonsils. The bacteria are present in the nose and throat and transmit from one person to another through sneezing, coughing and shaking hands. Transmission may also occur by touching objects or surfaces touched by an infected person. Children are at higher risk of contacting streptococcal infection especially during a school season. Strep throat may also be due to other causes as well.
It is important to note that the most common cause of throat irritation is viral infection and should not be confused with strep throat. Sore throat due to viral infection does not need treatment and the symptoms improve on its own. Signs and symptoms of strep throat and viral infection often mimic each other. While nasal discharge, productive cough with pale or greenish expectoration and red and irritated eyes also signify viral infection, there may also be a case of streptococcal infection as well. Laboratory tests read in association with prevalent symptoms often confirm a diagnosis.
Symptoms of strep throat such as a sore throat occur suddenly and the infected person may find it difficult to swallow. Clinical symptoms include white spots on tonsils and tender cervical lymph nodes or lymph nodes found in the neck. Pharyngitis is normally accompanied by fever, headache, general discomfort, bad breath, abdominal or back pain and pain in the ear. In certain cases strep throat causes hives, rash, chills, and appetite loss.
Strep throat treatment involves medical intervention as well as self care at home. It is very important to drink adequate fluids for managing fever. If swallowing is a problem then try sipping small quantities of high-quality liquids like soup broth and fruit juice mixed with sugar and warm water. Over-the counter medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are used for relief from throat pain and reducing fever. These are also effective in alleviating back pain and improve sore throat. Throat lozenges are effective for relief from throat irritation but only in mild cases of strep throat.
Although the symptoms disappear on their own in a week, if streptococcal infection is confirmed antibiotic therapy is necessary for avoiding complications such as rheumatic fever. Penicillin is commonly prescribed for ten days and for those allergic to penicillin, erythromycin is preferred. Care should be taken to complete the prescribed dose of antibiotic even if you see signs of recovery. This is important for killing all the bacteria. The full course of antibiotic is also necessary for preventing recurrence of strep throat symptoms.