What are the symptoms of strep throat?
People who have strep throat have a sore throat that is especially painful when they swallow. They usually have fever above 101º and swollen lymph nodes in their neck. Their throats are bright red with a white or yellow coating on the back of the throat or tonsils. Sometimes strep throat causes a skin rash known as scarlet fever. Usually people who have strep throat do not have cold symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, or runny nose.
What causes strep throat?
Strep throat occurs when a particular type of bacteria infects the throat. When a person has symptoms of strep throat, the doctor collects bacteria from their throat and tonsils using a cotton swab. A rapid strep test checks for the presence of the bacteria that cause strep throat on the swab.
Who gets strep throat?
Both children and adults get strep throat, but it is more common among children than adults. Strep throat occurs most frequently during the colder months of the year.
What is the treatment for strep throat?
Strep throat is treated with an antibiotic. Usually the patient feels better within a day or two after beginning the antibiotic.
Is there a cure for strep throat?
Yes, the antibiotic usually cures strep throat. However, it is possible to be infected by the strep bacteria again.
What happens if strep throat is not treated?
Most people will get well without treatment. However, a small percentage of untreated people develop complications such as scarlet fever and rheumatic fever. Those who develop scarlet fever have a rash that lasts over a week. As the rash fades, the skin peels. Scarlet fever is treated with the same antibiotic used for strep throat.
If scarlet fever is not treated, rheumatic fever may develop about 20 days later. Rheumatic fever may affect the heart, joints, skin and brain. Damage to the heart may be long term and very serious.