Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by streptococcal bacteria. It is characterized by the swelling and inflammation of the mucous membrane linings at the back of the throat. It is also contagious and can be transmitted from one person to another through airborne droplets when sneezing or coughing. Strep throat is a common health condition that affects children and adolescents because their immune systems are still vulnerable to many viruses and bacteria.
However, this type of bacteria can still affect people of all ages. Your condition may worsen over time if left untreated, causing other complications such as rheumatic fever and kidney inflammation. This article discusses everything you need to know about the symptoms of strep throat and how to prevent it.
What are the Symptoms of Strep Throat?
- Pain in the Throat
You may experience extreme pain in your throat, especially when swallowing food or saliva. It is caused by inflammations of the pharynx, larynx, and tonsils. Pharyngitis is the most common form of sore throat that causes inflammation of the pharynx. The pain may vary from mild to severe and may affect both sides of the throat.
- Loss of Appetite
Another symptom of strep throat is the loss of appetite. Most patients lose their appetite probably because of the excruciating pain emanating from the back of their throat. They develop a phobia towards eating because of the pain that may result when swallowing food. Other people lose their appetite completely and may require intensive care and treatment to get them back to eating once again.
- Red and Swollen Tonsils
You may also experience red and swollen tonsils with streaks of pus or white patches. This is caused by inflammation of the tonsils that tends to affect the surrounding parts of the throat. Swollen tonsils with streaks of pus can be nuisance, as it causes constant irritation on the throat. It also makes it difficult to eat since food particles are forced down the swollen tonsils causing extreme pain. People with strep throat may also experience swollen or tender lymph nodes on either side of the neck.
- Nausea or Vomiting
Children may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pain. This may be caused by mixing of food and streaks of mucus in the swollen tonsils when swallowing. As a result, the bacteria and viruses present in the pus cause irritation in the stomach, which may lead to vomiting, nausea and other gastrointestinal symptoms.
Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory reaction that develops because of a streptococcal infection. When strep throat is left untreated or undertreated, a patient may experience symptoms of rheumatic fever 2 to 4 weeks after the infection. However, not everyone with strep throat or a streptococcal infection may develop a fever.
The risk of strep throat infection can be caused by several factors such as your age and time of the year. It is more common in children because their immune system may not be strong enough to prevent the bacteria. While strep throat can occur at any time, it is usually experienced in winter and early spring. The fact that streptococcal bacteria is contagious, it tends to spread easily whenever people are in close contact.
How to Prevent Strep Throat
- Practice Good Hygiene
It is important to clean your hands properly to prevent all kinds of infections. Avoid sharing drinking glasses, and other personal items such as a toothbrush. Dishes should be washed with hot soapy water to get rid of bacteria.
- Avoid Crowded Areas
This type of infection is contagious, meaning that it can easily be transmitted from one person to another. Avoiding crowded places minimizes your chances of getting the bacteria. It is also important to avoid shaking hands or coming into close contact with an infected person.
- Lifestyle Changes
Eating a well-balanced diet, performing regular exercises and getting plenty of sleep helps boost your immune system. Avoid smoking because people who smoke are more susceptible to throat complications. Living a healthy lifestyle while practicing good hygiene minimizes your chances of getting bacterial infections.
Streptococcal bacteria is highly contagious and can spread through airborne droplets when sneezing or coughing. It is important to take the necessary steps to prevent strep throat since its symptoms are unbearable. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the above symptoms of strep throat to prevent health complications that may arise if left untreated.