Strep throat is inflammation and swelling of the throat, tonsils and lymph nodes. Unlike sore throat, which is caused by infection by viruses, strep throat is caused by infection with bacteria. While most sore throats generate mild symptoms and clear naturally, without the help of medical treatments, strep throat usually requires a course of antibiotics. Untreated strep throat can lead to serious complications such as ear infections, heart problems, kidney problems and rheumatic fever, even. At the scene of a weakened immune system, strep throat can be very serious, in which case doctors recommend prompt medical treatment with antibiotics.
Strep throat is caused by infection with group A streptococcus bacteria, a strong and highly contagious agent. Strep throat is very common in the flu seasons and it can be easily acquired by contact with people who carry the bacteria responsible for causing the disease. Streptococcus bacteria are airborne and can be contracted by simply breathing the same air with an infected person.
Many people believe that strep throat only affects children. This idea is unfunded, as strep throat can be acquired by any person, regardless of age. Although strep throat has the highest incidence in very young children and adolescents, it can also occur in adults. In fact, strep throat is more likely to cause complications when it is acquired by adults. Adults who suffer from strep throat typically have more intense symptoms and they need a longer period of recovery from illness. When it occurs in older people, strep throat is more difficult to overcome and the infection by Streptococcus bacteria is very likely to become systemic.
When suffering from strep throat, you should visit your doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will perform a general physical examination, to reveal clinical signs of bacterial infection. Unlike viral forms of the disease, strep throat usually causes enlargement of the tonsils and lymph nodes, which symptoms are very suggestive of infection by bacteria. Fever is also a very telling sign of strep throat. The presence of these common symptoms of strep throat is usually sufficient for diagnosis of the disease. To confirm the clinical diagnosis, doctors may also take samples of inflamed tissue for laboratory analysis. If the cause of the disease is an infection by the bacterium streptococcus group A, the doctor will prescribe an appropriate treatment with antibiotics.
Despite their side effects, medical treatment with antibiotics are the most effective means of curing strep throat in the present. Doctors strongly recommend a 10-day course of penicillin or amoxicillin to all people affected by strep throat. New generation antibiotics such as cephalosporins can overcome the disease of an even shorter amount of time, curing bacterial infections within 4-5 days of treatment. Prescribed in the early stages of the disease, appropriate medical treatment with antibiotics can provide rapid relief of symptoms for people suffering from strep throat. Furthermore, antibiotics can prevent the occurrence of serious complications such as rheumatic fever, kidney infections and heart disease.