Signs and symptoms of strep throat can include:
- Throat pain that usually comes on quickly
- Painful swallowing
- Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
- Tiny red spots on the area at the back of the roof of the mouth (soft or hard palate)
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck
- Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children
- Body aches
It's possible for you or your child to have many of these signs and symptoms but not have strep throat. The cause of these signs and symptoms could be a viral infection or some other illness. That's why your doctor generally tests specifically for strep throat.
It's also possible for you to be exposed to a person who carries strep but shows no symptoms.
Strep throat is caused by the bacteria Beta Streptococci Group A. These bacteria can cause rheumatic fever and glomerulonephritis, a kidney disease. These complications are rare, but they do occur often enough to warrant prevention.
Diagnosis of strep throat may be suspected, but requires a throat culture to confirm. Throat cultures show:
- Diagnosis of strep may be suspected, but should be confirmed with either a rapid strep test done in the office, or a strep culture which is sent to a medical laboratory.
Beta Street Group A sore throats should be treated with an antibiotic for a full ten (10) days. For other pathogenic bacteria, antibiotic use is optional depending upon the bacteria and severity of the illness.
To prevent strep infection:
- Clean your hands. Proper hand cleaning is the best way to prevent all kinds of infections. That's why it's important to clean your own hands regularly and to teach your children how to clean their hands properly using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Cover your mouth. Teach your children to cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze.
- Don't share personal items. Don't share drinking glasses or eating utensils. Wash dishes in hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.