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Strep throat

Strep throat: Introduction

Strep throat is an acute infection of the throat caused by a streptococcal infection, a type of bacterial infection.

Strep throat leads to swelling and irritation (inflammation) of the throat and is the most common bacterial cause of tonsillitis. Strep throat can occur to anyone but is most common in children.

Symptoms of strep throat include a sore throat, although not all people with strep throat will have a sore throat. The throat and tonsils become red, swollen, and white patches of pus may appear on the tonsils. Other symptoms include pain with swallowing, difficulty swallowing, headache, fever, and swollen glands (swollen lymph nodes). Complications of strep throat are possible in rare cases. Complications can include rheumatic fever and scarlet fever. For additional symptoms and more information about complications, refer to symptoms of strep throat.

The streptococcal infection that causes strep throat is contagious and spreads when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes. This shoots droplets contaminated with streptococcus bacteria into the air where they can be breathed in by others. The streptococcal infection that causes strep throat can also spread by touching an infected person or a contaminated surface, such as a contaminated drinking glass or computer keyboard.

Making a diagnosis of strep throat involves taking a thorough health history, including symptoms, and performing a physical exam. This includes examining the throat with a lighted instrument for the typical signs of strep throat. These include swelling, redness and irritation of the throat and tonsils and the presence of pockets of pus on the tonsils. At this time a throat culture and sensitivity is performed.

A throat culture and sensitivity involves swabbing the tonsils and tonsils with a cotton swab and growing and examining the sample under a microscope for the streptococcus bacteria. This test can take up to two days and also determines the most effective antibiotic needed to treat a specific case of strep throat. A similar but quicker test that can be done in less than half an hour is also often performed. This is called a rapid strep test and can only check for a group A streptococcal infection.

A physical examination also includes feeling the lymph glands for signs of swelling.

Blood tests, may be performed If a person with strep throat is very ill, has a high fever or other signs of an infection in other areas of the body, or has had symptoms for more than two weeks. Blood tests may include a complete blood count, which tests for an abnormally high number of white blood cells. This indicates an infectious process occurring in the body. An urinanalysis on the urine and other tests may be done if there are symptoms of a complications called acute glomerulonephritis, a type of kidney disease.

Because strep throat can mimic mononucleosis, a rapid test called a monospot may also be done to check for mononucleosis. A monospot test might be performed in conjunction with a blood test that checks for the presence of specific antibodies that the body produces to fight mononucleosis.

It is possible that a diagnosis of strep throat can be delayed or overlooked because some people do not have a sore throat. In addition, the symptoms of strep throat may resemble symptoms of other diseases, such as viral pharyngitis. For information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic strep throat, refer to misdiagnosis ofstrep throat.

Treatment of strep throat includes antibiotics. The most effective antibiotic to treat strep throat is often penicillin. Treatment also includes measures to help relieve symptoms and keep the body as strong as possible to minimize the risk of developing complications. This includes rest, medications to ease body aches and fever, and drinking plenty of fluids. People who are in good health can generally recover from the strep throat at home by taking antibiotics as directed and with supportive care, such as rest, fluids, and pain relievers. ...more »

Strep throat: Streptococcal bacterial throat infection. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Strep throat is available below.

Strep throat: Symptoms

Symptoms of strep throat can vary somewhat among individuals but often include a sore throat, However, not all people with a strep throat will have a sore throat.

Other symptoms include swollen tonsils. Infection of the tonsils may result in the formation of visible white colored patches or pockets of pus on the tonsils. This can lead to a bad taste in the ...more symptoms »

Strep throat: Treatments

Treatment of strep throat begins with preventing the spread of the streptococcus bacteria that can cause it. Prevention measures include avoiding contact with people who have strep throat. Preventive measures also include covering your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you sneeze or cough and washing hands frequently with soap and water for at least 15 seconds. ...more treatments »

Strep throat: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of strep throat may be missed or delayed because some people do not have a sore throat. Misdiagnosing strep throat is also possible because the symptoms of strep throat can mimic symptoms of other diseases, such as influenza, cold, mononucleosis, pharyngitis, and upper respiratory infection. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Strep throat

Treatments for Strep throat

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Strep throat?

Strep throat: Related Patient Stories

Strep throat: Deaths

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Alternative Treatments for Strep throat

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Strep throat may include:

  • Oral pain reliever
  • Lemon juice and warm water gargle
  • Warm salt water gargle
  • more treatments »

Diagnostic Tests for Strep throat

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Causes of Strep throat

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Disease Topics Related To Strep throat

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Strep throat: Undiagnosed Conditions

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Misdiagnosis and Strep throat

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Whooping cough often undiagnosed: Although most children in the Western world have been immunized against whooping cough (also called "pertussis"), this protection wears off after about 15 years. Thus, any teen or adult with more »

Chronic lung diseases hard to diagnose: Some of the chronic lung diseases are difficult to diagnose. Even the well-knowns conditions such as asthma or lung cancer often fail to be diagnosed more »

Strep throat: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Strep throat

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Strep throat: Rare Types

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Strep throat

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Strep throat: Animations

Research about Strep throat

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Statistics for Strep throat

Strep throat: Broader Related Topics

Strep throat Message Boards

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Definitions of Strep throat:

An infection of the oral pharynx and tonsils by streptococcus - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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