Strep throat (also called as streptococcal pharyngitis) is a decease caused by streptococcal bacteria causing severe inflammation and irritation in the throat and tonsils. Streptococcus is derived from a Greek word “streptos” meaning twisted chain, thus this is how the bacteria grows, they grow in pairs or chains. Streptococcus species are also responsible for many serious cases like endocarditis, erysipelas, bacterial pneumonia, and meningitis. Strep throat can be identified in some symptoms, (e.g. severe pain on the throat, swollen glands beneath the jaws , white or light yellow spots on the throat and tonsils, muscle pains, frequent headache, or fever).
Most victims are school age children and adolescents but it can affect all ages. Smokers, stressed or people who live in a crowded or damp conditions are the most people at risk of strep throat. If an individual is confirmed or highly suspected to have a strep throat, antibiotics are generally subscribed and it’s important to take it continuously even if the patient is already feeling good after few days to avoid other complications. Antibiotics include Penicillin, Cephalosporin or Macrolides. But of course, bed rest is highly recommended as it is a self limited decease that will improve on its own. Some home remedies like oral rinse, lemon juice, or any warm beverages may also work for the treatment. Some patients might have allergies or side effects in taking antibiotics. Swelling of the lips and tongue, rashes, or difficulty breathing is an indication of an allergic reaction. If any of these symptoms develop, discontinue taking antibiotics and consult a health care practitioner as soon as possible. Cases of strep throat should generally improve after 3 to 4 days, so if in any case, symptoms are not improving and it keeps worsening, the patient should consult a physician immediately.
IS IT CONTAGIOUS?
Strep throat is a contagious disease for people who mingle in the crowd have high probability of acquiring the bacteria. The most common way of catching the bacteria is by a close contact to infected individuals. Crowded places like schools or dormitories are the most places where Streptococcus infections should be closely monitored. This can be passed by sneezing, coughing, hand shaking or kissing. This can be passed through the objects that are being used like plates or any wares which are not properly washed.
Frequent hand washing can help lessen the probability of acquiring the virus. Do not share foods and drinks, handkerchiefs or any other personal uses with the infected person as it also spreads the virus. Keep eating utensils like plates or drinking glasses away from the virus carrier. For infected individuals, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough to prevent the airborne droplets to spread.
WORST CASE SCENARIO
If symptoms of strep throat persist and remained untreated, it may lead to acute rheumatic fever, an inflammatory disease caused by antibody cross-activity which involves the heart, joints, skin or the brain typically develops in two to three weeks after the strep throat infection has been detected. Streptococcus is also a responsible for Poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis , an infection in the skin or throat caused by nephritogenic strains of group A beta-hemolytic streptococci, common to children between 2 to 12 years old which can possibly lead to kidney damage as well. Streptococcus, also, is believed to be a culprit for Abscess formation, a collection of pus (abscess) which can develop around the tonsils, called as peritonsillar abscess or at the back of the throat, known as retropharyngeal abscess. To refrain from having these complications, it is still best to consult your physician as soon as an individual is being suspected to have a strep throat.