Although sore throat is a condition that clears on itself within a few days, strep throat often requires medical treatment with antibiotics. Doctors say that, in the absence of appropriate medical treatment, strep throat can rapidly aggravate and lead to complications such as rheumatic fever, heart disease or kidney disease. Before penicillin was discovered, infection by the streptococcus bacteria could even cause fatal diseases. However, strep throat today can easily be overcome with the means of certain antibiotics.
It is very important to understand that the sore throat and strep throat are not the same thing. Sore throat is an infection caused by viral agents and its generated symptoms are mild. However, strep throat is an infection caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus and its symptoms are usually generated intense. Strep throat causes symptoms such as inflammation and swelling of the throat, cough, nausea, fatigue, high fever, enlargement of tonsils and lymph nodes. Although the symptoms of sore throat usually improve within a few days without medical treatment, symptoms of strep throat intensify gradually and may persist for more than a week. In many cases, untreated strep throat can lead to tonsillitis, ear infections and scarlet fever. At the scene of a weakened immune system, the infection can become systemic, affecting the body on many levels.
Strep throat is highly contagious and can be easily acquired in the flu seasons. Unlike the case of sore throat, symptoms of strep throat have a rapid onset and they are much more intense.
Sometimes, clinical examinations alone can distinguish between sore throat and strep throat. By measuring the body temperature of patients and examining the appearance of the tonsils, doctors are usually able to tell if the infection is caused by viruses or bacteria. However, strep throat can be correctly diagnosed only with the means of laboratory tests. To determine the nature of the infection, doctors take a sample of mucus for analysis. If the disease is caused by the bacterium Group A Streptococcus, doctors usually recommend appropriate medical treatment with antibiotics.
Given the fact that antibiotics can cause different side effects, doctors do not prescribe these drugs when the disease is severe. If the sore throat does not seem to be caused by infection with streptococcal bacteria, doctors usually recommend to let the disease heal naturally. If symptoms of strep throat persist for more than a few days and appear to intensify, physicians may prescribe a treatment with penicillin or amoxicillin. These antibiotics have been used successfully to cure strep throat for decades and are still effective in overcoming the disease in the present.
Treatment with antibiotics must be followed for more than 10 days to ensure complete recovery. It is very important to follow your doctor’s instructions and properly follow the prescribed medical treatment. If treatment with antibiotics is prematurely interrupted, the infection is very likely to recur.