Strep throat is a common illness that affects children. It is the cause of about 37% of sore throat cases in children. It is medically known as streptococcal pharyngitis or streptococcal tonsillitis. It is a type of pharyngitis that can affect the tonsils and the larynx. What bacteria causes strep throat?
The causative agent of strep throat is group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus or GAS. Strep throat is very contagious. It is transmitted through close contact with an infected person. Respiratory secretions such as droplets can be a means for the causative agent to travel from one person to another. With this, it is best not to send children to school yet until therapy has been started for about a day to make sure that the child is not contagious anymore.
Symptoms associated with strep throat are as follows: sore throat, fever, pus on the tonsils, enlarged cervical lymph nodes, headache, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and palatial petechiae.
Diagnosis of strep throat includes throat culture and rapid strep tests. Actually, the symptoms associated with strep throat are very particular thus could directly point down to the diagnosis of the said condition. On the safer side, throat culture and rapid step test can be done to ascertain the condition. Throat culture is the gold standard in diagnosing strep throat. It has a sensitivity of 90-95%. Rapid stress test on the other hand is faster than throat culture but only has a sensitivity of 70%.
Treatment of strep throat includes analgesics and antibiotics. If strep throat is not treated, it actually resolves by itself in a few days but the risk of complication associated with the condition is very high. Antibiotic therapy can decrease the risk of complication as well as the duration of the illness. Antibiotics can lessen the illness by about 16 hours.
Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs and paracetamol are commonly used as analgesics in people with strep throat. Aspirin may be used in adults but not with children due to the risk of Reye’s syndrome. Reye’s syndrome is a fatal disease that affects the internal organs especially the brain and the liver.
Antibiotic commonly used in treating strep throat is penicillin V but this depends on the country you are in. In Europe, amoxicillin is preferred while benzathine penicillin G is preferred in India. Once a person with strep throat has taken antibiotics for one day, he/she is not contagious anymore. It should be emphasized that once antibiotic therapy has been started, it should be religiously finished until the end to prevent antibiotic resistance and to ensure that the causative agent is dead.