Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial infection that can cause pain and inflammation in the throat. Most sore throats are actually caused by a virus, not strep throat. Strep throat is more commonly found in children but can affect all age groups. It typically occurs in children ages 5-15 and rarely occurs in children under the age of 3. While a sore red throat with white patches is the most common sign of strep throat, other symptoms can include abdominal pain, fever, nausea, swollen lymph nodes, body aches, rash or chills. Strep throat is usually NOT associated with a cough, runny nose/eyes or itchy eyes. Prompt treatment is important since strep throat can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious complications if left untreated. Immediate treatment can also alleviate the symptoms of strep throat and keep it from spreading to other people.
While the severity of strep throat can vary from person to person, it’s important for everyone to seek a medical evaluation as soon as possible, especially if they know they’ve been exposed to strep throat. Testing for strep throat can involve two tests. The first is called the rapid strep test, uses a Q tip to swabs the back of the throat. Results from this test are available within minutes but it is not 100% accurate. If the rapid strep test is negative but the patient is presenting with symptoms concerning for strep throat, physicians often send the second swab for a culture that can confirm the presence or absence of the bacteria that causes strep throat within a day or two. Once you’ve been diagnosed with strep throat, your health care provider will prescribe antibiotics and over the counter medication to treat the symptoms while the infection clears. Soothing foods such as popsicles, tea, soup or soft foods help as well. Your child should be on antibiotics before returning to school. If he or she starts antibiotics by 5 pm the night before, he or she will likely not be contagious in the morning. While you or your child should start to feel better within a day or two, it can take seven to ten days for the infection to fully clear the body, which is why it’s important to complete the prescription of antibiotics your provider recommends.
Strep throat is highly contagious, which makes practicing good hygiene, such as regular hand washing and not sharing drinks or food, an important step to preventing the infection from spreading. Cone Health’s exceptional medical team is dedicated to treating individuals throughout the community experiencing strep throat and helping them return to everyday activities as quickly as possible.
Dr. Talia Aron is a primary care physician at LeBauer HealthCare at Stoney Creek and a member of Cone Health Medical Group. Dr. Aron received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She received her Doctor of Medicine from Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and completed her family medicine residency at the University of North Carolina-Moses Cone Residency Program.