While strep throat can affect people at any age it is most frequently seen in children. Strep throat is an infection of the throat that is bacterial in nature and can make a person's throat extremely sore. The majority of sore throats are brought about by viruses but strep throat is caused by the streptococcus bacteria. Strep throat will clear up on its own in three to seven days whether it is treated or not but it is important to realise that antibiotics can help to prevent some of the ailment's more serious complications.
A strain of bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes is the organism responsible for causing strep throat, which is a very contagious ailment. The illness can be easily spread via droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The bacteria can also be picked up from one surface and quickly transferred to another. When a person encounters these bacteria and then touches their hand to their nose or mouth the bacteria gain access and infect the individual. Soon after, the symptoms begin to show.
The classic sign of a strep throat infection is a sore throat that feels raw and scratchy. It can be very difficult to simply swallow something when the throat is irritated in this manner and it will cause great discomfort to do so. The tonsils of a person with strep throat will be swollen and very red when observed and they can have streaks of pus on them as well. The lymph glands in the individual's neck often will become tender to the touch and swell up as they attempt to deal with the infection.
Other symptoms associated with strep throat include small red spots that can develop on the soft or hard palate inside the patient's mouth. This can be accompanied by a fever and headaches are not all that uncommon with a case of strep throats and younger kids especially may have to deal with bouts of vomiting and stomach aches. Children may also develop a reddish coloured rash with very tiny spots that appears worse in the area under the arms and in the creases in the skin.
Antibiotics are the vastly preferred course of treatment for strep throat. Oral antibiotics such as amoxicillin, azithromycin, clindamycin, penicillin and cephalosprin are commonly used to battle the bacteria responsible for strep throat. Injectable penicillin is sometimes used when young children are the patient and have been vomiting. The symptoms of strep throat are lessened by such drugs and it normally takes only 24 to 48 hours for a patient to feel better. Even when marked improvement is noted the entire course of antibiotics should be taken to insure the condition will not come back. Pain relievers such as Advil and Tylenol are often used to combat the pain from the sore throat and symptoms such as fever.
Strep Throat Complications
It is entirely possible that someone can have strep throat bacteria in their throat but never exhibit a single symptom of the ailment. These people are called carriers and they have the potential to still transmit the strep throat to others. When strep throat is not treated it has been known to lead to other much more serious illnesses. Tonsillitis, ear and sinus infections, kidney inflammation and scarlet fever have all been linked to strep throat. Rheumatic fever in particular is a possible complication when strep throat is ignored. Its symptoms are nodules of deposits that will form on different tissues, with the joints, muscles, skin, and even the heart at risk. The lining of the heart can be scarred from rheumatic fever with dangerous consequences for the patient including potential heart failure.The use of antibiotics can keep strep bacteria from spreading infection to other parts of the body.