The common cold, post-nasal drip, and allergies can all lead to a sore, scratchy throat. But strep throat is the mother of all sore throats. You get it when one of the 120 strains of group A. Streptococcus bacteria invades your throat and tonsils.
Unlike garden-variety sore throats, strep throat comes with a slew of symptoms that can sideline you for a week or more. In addition to throat pain, you can expect a fever, swollen glands, trouble swallowing, and red patches or white spots on your tonsils and throat.
The question is: Should you wait out strep throat and let it resolve on its own or seek medical care?
Before diving into how to treat strep throat, let’s start with the basics.
The first step is to accurately diagnose strep throat and rule out other possible causes of your symptoms. Viruses — not bacteria — are the main culprit behind most sore throats, such as when you have a common cold.
Colds cause coughing, runny nose, and sometimes a sore throat and raspy voice.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects you differently, including fever, body aches, and painful inflammation.
The only way to confirm strep throat is with a throat culture. Dr. Ladouceur gently swabs the back of your throat to collect a sample of your saliva and mucus, then tests it for A. Streptococcus bacteria.
If it’s not strep throat, he continues his examination to discover what’s causing your symptoms.
If it is strep throat, you have two options: Wait it out or take antibiotics.
Strep throat is a self-limiting illness, meaning it can run its course and resolve on its own in about 10 days. However, strep throat is most common among kids ages 5-15, and they may need help overcoming the infection.
Strep throat is also highly contagious, so whether you or your child has it, expect about a week of missed school and work days — stay home, get plenty of rest and hydration, take pain relievers, and run a cool-mist humidifier.
Here are some signs that you should come to Weekend Urgent Care immediately:
Don’t wait for strep throat to go away on its own if you have these symptoms. Dr. Ladouceur can help your body overcome the infection so you can get well sooner.
Antibiotics — specifically, amoxicillin and penicillin — work wonders for strep throat. These medications can help you:
The most serious strep throat complication is rheumatic fever, an infection that can cause inflammation in your heart, brain, skin, and joints.
If you think you might have strep throat, contact Weekend Urgent Care by phone or online. We’re open seven days a week.