Strep Throat: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Medical review: Dr. Arthur Frazão
Opthalmologist
May 2022

Strep throat is an infection of the pharynx caused by Streptococcus type bacteria. It is medically referred to as streptococcal pharyngitis and is most commonly caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes, which is easily transmissible.

Strep throat generally causes symptoms such as intense sore throat, white patches on the tonsils, difficulty swallowing, decreased appetite, and fever.

It's important for strep throat to be diagnosed and treated as soon as possible, not only because the symptoms are quite uncomfortable, but also because of the possible complications associated with it, such as kidney inflammation, and rheumatic fever. These complications occur when the bacteria manages to spread and grow in other organs. 

Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Intense throat ache, which usually appears suddenly;
  • Red, swollen tonsils with pus or white patches;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Fever;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Stomach ache and general body ache;
  • Loss of appetite;
  • Skin rash;
  • Swollen and sensitive lumps in the neck.

People with strep throat do not normally present cough or a runny nose, which can help differentiate symptoms from a common flu.

How do you get strep throat

The group of bacteria that causes strep throat is easily transmissible when infected people cough or sneeze. You can become infected if you:

  • Breathe in contaminated cough or sneeze droplets;
  • Drink from the same cup or plate as a sick person;
  • Touch a surface infected with saliva droplets and then touch your face.

Symptoms of strep throat tend to appear suddenly, about 2 to 5 days from initial contact. They normally disappear after a week if the infection is treated properly.

Treatment options

Treatment for strep throat normally involves the use of antibiotics, such as amoxicillin or penicillin, which should be taken as prescribed by a doctor, even after symptoms have disappeared. Check out other home remedies for a sore throat that you can try to complement your medical treatment. 

The doctor may also recommend the use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication or analgesics, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, in order to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and lower fever. Read more about how you can lower your fever at home. 

Even though it's hard to eat due to loss of appetite and throat pain when swallowing, it's important for you to eat, preferably creamy or liquid foods. That way you'll meet your nutritional needs and help fight the microorganisms, as food helps to strengthen the immune system.

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Atualizado por Tua Saude editing team, em May de 2022. Medical review por Dr. Arthur Frazão - Opthalmologist, em July de 2021.

References

  • KIDSHEALTH. Strep Throat. Available on: <https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/strep-throat.html>. Access in 28 Jul 2021
  • CDC. Strep Throat: All You Need to Know. Available on: <https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/strep-throat.html>. Access in 28 Jul 2021
Medical review:
Dr. Arthur Frazão
General practitioner
General practitioner, who completed at a specialty ophthalmology at the UFRN in 2008. Licensed to practice under CRM-PE license #16878.