Rare disease from strep throat

Throat anatomy

Causes

Strep throat is most common in children between ages 5 and 15, although anyone can get it.

Strep throat is spread by person-to-person contact with fluids from the nose or saliva. It commonly spreads among family or household members.

Symptoms

Symptoms appear about 2 to 5 days after coming in contact with the strep germ. They may be mild or severe.

Common symptoms include:

  • Chills
  • Red, sore throat that may have white patches
  • Pain when swallowing

Other symptoms may include:

Some strains of strep throat can lead to a scarlet fever-like rash. The rash first appears on the neck and chest. It may then spreads over the body. The rash may feel rough like sandpaper.

Exams and Tests

Many other causes of sore throat may have the same symptoms. Your health care provider must do a test to diagnose strep throat and decide whether to prescribe antibiotics.

A rapid strep test can be done in most health care provider offices. However, the test may be negative, even if strep is present.

Treatment

Most sore throats are caused by viruses, not bacteria.

Sore throats should be treated with antibiotics only if the strep test is positive. Antibiotics are taken to prevent rare but more serious health problems, such as rheumatic fever.

Penicillin or amoxicillin are most often the first drugs tried. Antibiotics should be taken for 10 days, even though symptoms are often gone within a few days.

The following tips may help your sore throat feel better:

  • Drink warm liquids, such as lemon tea or tea with honey.
  • Gargle several times a day with warm salt water (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water).
  • Drink cold liquids or suck on fruit-flavored ice pops.
  • Suck on hard candies or throat lozenges. Young children should not be given these products because they can choke on them.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Symptoms of strep throat usually get better in about 1 week. Untreated, strep can lead to serious complications.

Prevention

Most people with strep can spread the infection to others until they have been on antibiotics for 24 - 48 hours. They should stay home from school, daycare, or work until they have been on antibiotics for at least a day.

Get a new toothbrush after two or three days, but before finishing the antibiotics. Otherwise, the bacteria can live on the toothbrush and re-infect you when the antibiotics are done. Also, keep your family's toothbrushes and utensils separate, unless they have been washed.

If repeated cases of strep still occur in a family, you might check to see if someone is a strep carrier. Carriers have strep in their throats, but the bacteria do not make them sick. Sometimes, treating them can prevent others from getting strep throat.

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