Strep Throat Bacteria – Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment

There are only few parents who had not a run in with strep throat. Although the disease can be caught by adults also, it usually occurs in children. The reason for this is that the infection spreads very easily in enclosed spaces such as schools or kindergartens, as it is transmitted by air or by contact with an infected person or an object.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that afflicts the throat and the tonsils. The dead give away regarding the possible infection by these bacteria is that the throat becomes irritated and inflamed, causing a sudden severe sore throat. For you to positively isolate that you are dealing with a case of Strep throat bacteria, you will need to get finer details on possible symptoms. These symptoms are as follows.

Chapter 1. Symptoms of Strep Throat Bacteria

Streptococci are transmitted from person to person, either by air or physical contact. The bacteria found in the nose and throat, can be easily transferred to another person through sneezing, coughing, shaking hands or touching someone else.
Also, people may become infected by touching the object with which the infected person has been in contact.

The incubation period or the time elapsed from infection by bacteria, until the first symptoms manifest, is usually two to five days. If the infected doesn’t get treatment, a person can be contagious for two to three weeks.
The most common symptoms of streptococcal throat infections are:

  • A sudden sever sore throat
  • Pain when an individual swallows
  • Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes – The tonsils are enlarged and inflamed
  • Lymph glands in the neck can become inflamed, enlarged and tender
  • White or yellow spots at the back of a bright yellow throat
  • Gray, white or yellow spots or coating of the tonsils and pharynx
  • A fever that is slightly above the standard body temperature. Temperatures over 38 ° C (lower temperatures may be an indication of viral infection).
  • Abrupt and sudden sore throat without coughing and sneezing
  • Redness of the throat

In addition to these symptoms, although less likely but possible, a person might experience lower abdominal pain, headache, nausea and loss of appetite, muscle aches and skin rashes.
In the case of rashes on the skin, which gradually spread from the neck and chest to the whole body, it is probably a scarlet fever, which is not dangerous if it is treated right away.

It is important to recognize the symptoms of streptococcal throat infections and distinguish them from ordinary sore throat or a viral infection. Streptococcal sore throat usually is not accompanied by symptoms of normal or viral sore throat, such as sneezing, coughing, a runny nose or nasal congestion.

In general, the more symptoms of a common cold or a sore throat you have, the less likely it is that you are infected with bacterial sore throat.

Infection by streptococcal bacteria usually disappears in seven days. If left untreated, infected persons are contagious through a considerably longer period, and some there are possible complications. Although rare, these complications can include ear infections, sinus infections, rheumatic fever or kidney inflammation. In case you are not sure what the strep throat looks like you should check strep throat pictures so you can recognize common signs.

Other less common symptoms include headaches, bellyaches, vomiting, and body aches. These are the core symptoms that a person afflicted with Strep throat bacteria emits.

Chapter 2. Causes of Strep Throat Bacteria

This infection is caused by a bacterium called Streptococcal. This is what gives the infection its name. There are different types of Streptococcal bacteria. This probably explains why the bacteria infection varies in the intensity of its attack. This bacterial infection is often confused with viral infections by many individuals. However if the infection is accompanied by coughing, sneezing, or the presence of a running nose then you can rule out the possibility that you are suffering from a case of Strep throat bacteria. This is however a role that you need to leave to the professionals – an Ear, Throat, and Nose specialist.

As suggested in the introduction, strep throat is a contagious infection of the throat tissue and / or tonsils. The infection is caused by beta-hemolytic streptococci, the bacteria are ball shaped and divided into groups A, B, C, D, and G. Streptococcal sore throat is commonly caused by beta-hemolytic group A streptococci, Streptococcus pyogenes in Latin, although there is also the possibility to get infected with the groups C and G.

Streptococci infection causes a sore throat because it irritates the throat and tonsil tissue accompanied with painful inflammation. It is worth mentioning that the sore throat may also occur due to viral infection or non-infectious causes, such as smoke irritation, dry air, allergies and throat injuries.

Chapter 3. Diagnosis and the Treatment of Strep Throat Bacteria

There are two methods that are used to diagnose this bacterial infection. The first involves the doctor asking a series of questions with the express purpose of isolating the probable cause of discomfort in ones neck. The second mode of diagnosis involves the use of a throat culture test. In this test a swab of cells is taken from the back of the throat. The swab is then put in a special cup and if the bacterium grows over time, the doctor knows that you essentially have Strep throat bacteria.

If you suspect that you are infected with streptococcal bacteria, and you notice the symptoms of bacterial throat infections, it is best to seek medical assistance, which will then use the right diagnostic methods to confirm infection and prescribe treatment. Seek medical attention if you:

  • Notice symptoms of severe sore throat for several days after you have been in contact with a infected person
  • Have a fever above 38 ° C, which lasts longer than one or two days
  • Have a sore throat for longer than two to three days and it does not seem like a common cold
  • Notice redness and rashes, which may be the early stage of scarlet fever
  • Have difficulty sleeping because of nasal congestion and sore tonsils

Parents of infected children may use a little flashlight to check how severe the sore throat is and the need for doctor visits.  In the case of very severe sore throat, high fever, breathing difficulty, you should seek immediate medical attention. Your doctor will most likely take a sample of the throat culture.

This is a diagnostic test used to detect and identify bacterial, viral or fungal infection of the throat. A sample of the throat culture is taken with the help of sticks, and then placed in a laboratory environment in a container in which there is a medium that encourages the growth of organisms that cause disease. If under the microscope, you can observe the growth of organisms, then the test is positive. If the doctor does not notice any growth of organisms, the test is negative.

The results for this test can take up to a few days, so the doctor will sometimes conduct a faster test for strep, in which the results are obtained within 10-15 minutes. If these tests reveal a streptococcal infection, a doctor can make a diagnosis and determine the right treatment. If however the test does not prove positive, it does not necessarily mean that there is no bacterial infection. Rapid strep tests have a 20-percent possibility of error.

Chapter 4. How to Help Yourself at Home?

Since the high temperature increases the body’s need for fluid, and because a sore throat makes swallowing difficult, there can be a lack of fluids. Therefore it is necessary to rest and lie down, and lower your body temperature to reduce the body’s need for additional fluid.

It is recommended to eat soup, which replaces lost fluids and salt, and drinking liquids that have sugar, they help absorb fluids more quickly. Be sure to avoid caffeine, as it can cause fluid loss. Throat refreshing pills are not effective in most cases. Relief can be found is some painkillers such as aspirin (acertilasalicilna acid) or Plicet (paracetamol). In addition, it is important to mention that more sleep and rest can help greatly to speed up the recovery of the entire organism.

Once the doctor makes a diagnosis and is sure that you are infected with strep throat, he will commonly prescribe you an antibiotic such as penicillin, and advise you to take it the next ten days. For people who are allergic to penicillin, your doctor may prescribe another type of antibiotic.

Antibiotics are effective in treating symptoms of streptococcal sore throat if you start to take them 48 to 72 hours after the symptoms manifested. Even if they do not speed up the recovery, antibiotics may be prescribed for other reasons, primarily because they kill bacteria and shorten the period during which you are contagious to people around you, and because it may prevent other complications that may occur due to an immunologic reaction to the infection.

Once you start taking the medication, the symptoms will gradually disappear after 24 hours, especially high fever. Within two to three days the remaining symptoms will also gradually withdraw. It is extremely important to realize that antibiotic therapy should be implemented to the end, as the doctor recommended, even if you feel completely well and do not feel any symptoms. If antibiotic treatment is prematurely interrupted, the bacteria may still be present in the body and the symptoms can return, and you can still infect other people.

Chapter 5. Prevention of the Strep Throat

One form of prevention of bacterial sore throat is surely to avoid infected persons. If you are in a society with people suffering from colds or other illnesses, wash your hands frequently and do not use their cutlery, drinking glass or tooth brush.

Bacteria is spread from person to person by tiny droplets that an infected person can throw out with a cough, sneeze or breath. Bacteria can even survive a short period of time on objects such as door handles or taps in the bathroom. If healthy people touch these objects and then touching their eyes, mouth or nose, they can become infected with the bacteria.
If you have an infected person in your home, it is recommended that all the cutlery and drinking glasses of the infected person are kept separately from other household accessories. Do not share food, drinks, or towels with an infected person, since this way the infection can be easily spread.

If you are an infected person, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands frequently after that, or after cleaning your nose.

Proper and balanced diet, plenty of sleep and regular exercise improves your body’s resistance to infection. Stress can increase the sensitivity of the organism, so try to reduce tensions in daily life. During the winter months when due to heating, the air in the house is often too dry, it is recommended to use a humidifier. Moisture in the air helps maintain moisture mucosa, which is also resistant to bacteria. Stop smoking and avoid secondary smoke. The smoke irritates the tissue in the throat and thus makes it more susceptible to infections.

Chapter 6. Surgery on the tonsils – when and why?

It often happens that some people suffer repeatedly from bacterial sore throats during the year, regardless of antibiotic treatment. In such cases, a doctor will recommend surgical removal of the tonsils.

The doctor will recommend surgery on the tonsils in the following cases:

  • When a person constantly, several times a year, suffers from tonsillitis, despite treatment with antibiotics
  • As a result of inflammation of the tonsils the person has constant bad breath from the mouth, which also does not respond to antibiotic treatment
  • There is suspicion of a tumor and tonsil biopsy is needed.

Enlarged tonsils are not automatically a reason for surgery, unless they cause some of the above complications or block the airways…

Chapter 7. Conclusion

Strep throat bacteria will go away by itself within a week after infection. Medical personnel however use antibiotics to battle Strep throat bacteria. This is designed to ensure that the bacteria do not spread to other parts of the body as well as other individuals. To battle the infections ensure that you do not share utensils with a one who is infected. Similarly, anyone who is infected with the bacteria should ensure that they avoid contact with individuals for at least some 24 hours. Also, maintain high standards of personal hygiene. Bacteria can live on doorknobs, tables, etc. Make sure that you wash your hands repeatedly during the course of the day. This are the basic lessons that you need to appreciate when dealing with this bacterial infection. If you heed the advice that is presented herein, then you will be equipped to tackle the ravages of the disease. All the best.