Streptococcus Throat

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Overview

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils (glands in the back of the throat) that is caused by a bacterium known as Group A streptococcus. Strep throat spreads from person to person very easily, especially among family members. It is common in school-aged children but also occurs in adults.

Strep throat can very rarely cause more serious illnesses, such as rheumatic fever, a disease that can harm the heart valves. So, it's important that strep throat is appropriately diagnosed and treated. With proper treatment, strep throat is usually cured within 10 days.

Symptoms

The symptoms of strep throat include:


Sudden sore throat

Red tonsils that have white spots on them

Pain when swallowing

Fever

Swollen neck glands

Loss of appetite

Headache

Abdominal pain

Causes

It’s caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. They also can create infections of the:

Ear

Sinuses

Skin

Tonsils

Strep A bacteria normally live in your nose and mouth, and on your skin. Many people carry these microbes but don't get sick.

Strep throat usually isn’t serious. But when it is left untreated, it can cause complications such as:

Rheumatic fever, a disease that can damage the joints and heart

Kidney problems

Risk factors

Strep throat is more common in children than adults. It is most common in children 5 through 15 years old. It is very rare in children younger than 3 years old.

History of ill contact.
Over crowding.
Frequent sinus infections.
Smoking.
Attending day care.
Immunocompromised.
Cold season.
Allergic rhinitis.

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Complications

Possible complications of untreated or partially treated strep throat infection are:

Rheumatic fever

Glomerulonephritis

Otitis media (spread of infection to the middle ear)

Meningitis (spread of infection to the lining of brain and spinal canal)

Pneumonia (lung infection)

Toxic shock syndrome (a rare but severe complication of strep pharyngitis, causing severe widespread infection and organ failure); and/or

Abscess formation around the tonsils and behind the throat (peri-tonsillar abscess and retro-pharyngeal abscess)

Prevention

To prevent strep infection:


Wash your hands. Proper hand-washing is the best way to prevent all kinds of infections. That's why it's important to wash your own hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Teach your children how to wash their hands properly using soap and water or to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if there is no soap and water available.

Cover your mouth. Teach your children to cover their mouths with an elbow or tissue when they cough or sneeze.

Don't share personal items. Don't share drinking glasses or eating utensils. Wash dishes in hot, soapy water or in a dishwasher.