Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and pain in the throat. This common condition is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat can affect children and adults of all ages.
How contagious is strep throat?
Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial infection.
It usually spreads through small respiratory droplets that become airborne when someone with strep throat sneezes or coughs.
Strep throat causes
Strep throat is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes or group A Streptococcus (also known as group A strep, or GAS).
You can become infected with strep throat if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after being exposed to these bacteria.
Along with coughing and sneezing, strep throat can be spread when you share food or a drink with someone who’s infected.
You can also get strep throat by coming into contact with an object contaminated with group A strep bacteria, such as a doorknob or faucet, and then touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
Strep throat diagnosis
See your doctor if you experience any of the following:
a sore throat that lasts longer than two days
a sore throat with white patches
dark, red splotches or spots on the tonsils or the top of the mouth
a sore throat with a fine, sandpaper-like pink rash on the skin
Your doctor will examine your throat and check for signs of inflammation. They may also check your neck for swollen lymph nodes and ask about other symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have strep throat, they may do a rapid strep test in the office.
This test determines whether your sore throat is caused by a strep infection or another type of bacteria or germ. Your doctor swabs the back of your throat with a long cotton swab, collecting a sample. The sample is then sent to a lab to look for signs of bacteria.
The results are available in about 5 minutes. If your rapid strep test is negative but your doctor thinks you have strep throat, your sample may be sent to an outside lab for additional testing. These results are available within a few days.
Strep throat treatment
Because strep throat is a bacterial infection, your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. These medications inhibit the spread of bacteria and infections. Several types of antibiotics are available.
It’s important that you finish your antibiotic treatment course to kill the infection completely. Some people stop taking their medication when symptoms improve, which can trigger a relapse. If this happens, the symptoms can return.
Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most common medications given for a strep infection. If you’re allergic to penicillin or amoxicillin, your doctor may prescribe the antibiotic azithromycin.
Strep throat prevention
There is no vaccine available that prevents strep throat. One of the most effective ways to help avoid infection is by regularly washing your hands. If you can’t access soap and water, you can use a hand sanitizer instead.
Don’t share drinks or food with someone who has strep throat. If someone in your home has strep throat, don’t share their towels, sheets, or pillowcases. Wash dishes and laundry in water that’s hot and soapy.
If you have strep throat, sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or a tissue rather than into your hand. Be sure to wash your hands frequently.
Source Credit: https://www.healthline.com/health/strep-throat#diagnosis