Strep throat is the common name for streptococcal pharyngitis. It is a bacterial infection in the throat and the tonsils. The throat gets irritated and inflamed, causing a sudden, severe sore throat.
Causes and Risk Factors
Strep throat is caused by an infection of the pharyngeal tissue with a streptococcal bacterium (Group A Streptococcus), which causes inflammation and swelling of the mucous membranes lining the back of the throat and the tonsils.
Strep throat is most common in school-aged children and teens, with a peak incidence between 5 to 15 years of age. It is spread by respiratory droplets from an infected person. It may be spread directly or by touching something that has droplets on it and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. Streptococcus bacteria is responsible for about 15% to 40% of all cases of sore throat in children. Adults also develop strep throat, though less commonly, accounting for about 5% to 10% of sore throat cases.
Some people may carry the bacteria without symptoms. It may also be spread by skin infected with group A streptococcus.
Symptoms of Strep throat usually begin one to four days after infection and usually last for seven to ten days. Symptoms range from mild to severe.
They include a sudden sore throat, fever of greater than 38 °C (100 °F), pus on the tonsils, and large cervical lymph nodes.
Individuals with strep throat may also experience other symptoms which may include, Headache, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, general discomfort, loss of appetite and skin rashes.
The definitive diagnosis of strep throat can be made with simple laboratory testing. A throat culture is the gold standard for diagnosis, however, a rapid strep test (also called rapid antigen detection testing or RADT) may also be used.
Untreated streptococcal pharyngitis usually resolves within a few days, however, complications such as rheumatic fever and retropharyngeal abscesses may occur. Treatment is usually with antibiotics and the primary purpose of treatment is to shorten the duration of the acute illness and reduce the risk of complications.
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent strep throat. Preventive measures are primarily hygienic.
Keep eating utensils, dishes, and drinking glasses separate from any infected person.
Do not to share food and drinks, napkins, handkerchiefs, or towels with an infected person
Cover mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, this helps prevent the release of infected airborne droplets.
Wash hands frequently.