Strep throat is an illness caused by bacteria from the family streptococcus, group A. Strep throat is characterized by swelling in the throat and patches of white on the tonsils. When you have strep, your sore throat will come on quickly, feel raw, and it will hurt to swallow. You will probably have a fever and may also experience symptoms like:
If you or your child comes down with these symptoms, come in for a strep test and appropriate treatment. Strep is very contagious and can be spread through airborne droplets of saliva or mucus. Your health care provider will take your temperature, look at your throat, and possibly take a small sample from your throat to test for the bacteria.
Strep throat is treated with antibiotics. You should stay at home and rest for at least 24 hours following diagnosis and beginning the course of drugs. You can go back to work or your child can go back to school after:
If your sore throat is not due to the streptococcus bacteria, it is most likely linked to a virus. Viruses cause colds with all of the associated symptoms including a sore throat. While it may be tempting to go to the doctor to request antibiotics, if your illness is caused by a virus, the best thing you can do is:
If your illness does not subside in a few days, you may want to see a doctor, but in most cases, rest is the best medicine.
Another common cause of sore throats is allergies. When you get stuffed up and have watery, itchy eyes and nose, you may suffer from post-nasal drip which can irritate your throat. Similarly, if you are congested, you may breathe through your mouth, which can dry out and irritate your throat.
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