Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is strep throat? What are the
signs of strep throat?
Strep throat is an infection caused by
bacteria. It is called "strep" because the bacteria that causes the
infection is called streptococcus.
Adults with strep throat may have a sore throat,
a fever and swollen neck glands. They usually don’t have a cough or a
Children with strep throat have a sore throat
and may have tummy pain or a red rash with small spots. The rash is worse under
the arms and in skin creases.
How is strep throat treated?
Your doctor may give you or your child an
antibiotic. Antibiotics kill bacteria, which helps strep throat go away a little
faster. It can also prevent a few rare but serious conditions that people with
strep throat might get. It is important to take all of the medicine your doctor
Should all sore throats be treated
No. Not every sore throat is strep throat.
Bacteria only cause about 5% to 10% of sore throats. The rest are caused by
viruses or other problems, and antibiotics will not help. Your doctor can do a
test to make sure it is strep throat.
What tests can tell I have strep
Your doctor may use a test called the rapid
strep test. For this test, the doctor uses a long cotton swab to take some
material from the back of your throat. The results of this test can be ready in
about 15 minutes.
Your doctor may also do a culture of the throat
material. A sample of the throat material is sent to a laboratory. This test is
called a throat culture. It takes more than 24 hours to learn the results of a
The rapid strep test and the culture can tell
your doctor if you have strep throat. If something else is causing your sore
throat, these tests do not tell what it is.
Can other people catch my strep
Yes. You can give the infection to other people
until you have been treated with an antibiotic for 1 to 3 days. Children with
strep throat should not go back to school or day care until their fever has gone
away and they have taken an antibiotic for at least 24 hours.
What can make my sore throat feel
Here are some things that might help you feel
- Taking ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin,
Nuprin) or acetaminophen (brand name: Tylenol). Children should not take
aspirin. Aspirin can cause Reyes syndrome -a serious illness- and in
some cases, death when it is used in children under 18 who have the flu.
- Gargling with warm salt water (1/4 teaspoon of
salt in 1 cup [8 ounces] of warm water).
- For adults and older children, sucking on throat
lozenges, hard candy or pieces of ice.
- Eating soft foods, drinking cool drinks or warm
liquids or sucking on Popsicles.
Can people get
strep throat from their pets?
This could happen, but it is very rare.