Strep throat is a common infection. It’s best-known to cause symptoms like a scratchy sore throat, swollen neck glands, and pain with swallowing.
Strep accounts for about one third of sore throats in children, but it’s different from the sore throat that comes along with the common cold or the flu. Colds and the flu are viral infections, but strep is an infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacterium.
Bacterial infection like strep puts you at risk for health complications, but treating it helps you kick the infection and start feeling better faster. If you or your child is feeling under the weather, schedule an appointment for acute care at Medical Associates Of North Texas.
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is a bacterial infection, but it spreads like a viral infection. Someone who’s sick can spread the strep bacteria from their nose and mouth when they sneeze, cough, or wipe their nose. It can be transmitted to you when you come in contact with someone who is sick or if you touch something they’ve touched.
Strep throat is characterized by symptoms like:
- Scratchy throat
- Sore throat
- Swollen neck, throat, or tonsils
- Red and white patches inside throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of appetite
Although anyone can get strep throat, it most commonly affects school-aged children. It’s rare in adults or in children under three years old.
The risks of untreated strep throat
The common cold, the flu, and other viral infections commonly cause sore throats. These viruses make you sick, but your immune system is equipped to fight them off. With some rest and at-home care, you’ll likely start feeling better in a few days.
But strep throat is a bacterial infection, and that bacteria can spread to other parts of the body if it’s not treated. Some possible complications of untreated strep throat include:
- Abscesses in the throat
- Lymph node infection
- Ear infection
- Sinus infection
- Kidney inflammation
- Rheumatic fever
- Scarlet fever
- Toxic shock syndrome
While some of these conditions are fairly rare, they can be life-threatening. Learning to recognize the symptoms of strep throat and seeking prompt medical care if you or your child is sick is the best way to protect your health.
When to go to the doctor for strep throat
Sore throats caused by viruses typically improve within 5-7 days. Go to the doctor if you or your child has a sore throat lasting longer than a week, or if the sore throat is accompanied by:
- Swollen neck glands
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Our acute care team at Medical Associates Of North Texas provides quick, in-office strep tests for children and adults. If the test is positive, we prescribe treatment right away.
Most of the time, treatment for strep throat includes a round of oral antibiotics. You or your child may start feeling better 1-2 days after starting the medication, but it’s important to keep taking it until it’s gone to ensure the infection won’t return.
Don’t ignore that sore, scratchy throat. Schedule an appointment at Medical Associates Of North Texas online or call our office at 972-695-8053.