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What Is Strep Throat?

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strep throat facts

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  • Strep throat is a contagious bacterial infection that can manifest in people of all ages, although children aged 5 to 15 years old have the highest risk for it
  • Strep throat cases tend to rise during early spring and late fall, and can spread in places where people tend to gather, such as schools, day care centers and offices
  • The strep throat-causing bacteria can be passed on from one person to another through sharing of things like eating utensils, getting into close contact with the saliva or nasal secretions of an infected person or touching Group A strep-caused sores

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat caused by group A streptococcus bacteria (Streptococcus pyrogenes.)1 This contagious disease can affect people of all ages, typically children and adolescents between the ages of 5 and 15.2

It's possible that you can be diagnosed with strep throat at any time of the year, but it is most prominent during early spring3 and late fall. It usually spreads within schools,4 day care centers,5 military barracks, nursing homes,6 offices7 and households.8

Strep throat can be passed from one person to another by sharing utensils, glasses9 and plates, being in close contact with an infected individual's saliva or nasal secretions, or touching skin sores caused by the strep A bacteria.10,11

Although they have certain qualities that make them similar to each other, strep throat should not be confused with sore throat. There are major differences between these two, especially when it comes to the symptoms, causes and methods of diagnosis.

How Do You Know if You Have Strep Throat?

Common strep throat symptoms include throat pain, swallowing difficulties, swollen and tender lymph nodes on the neck, and tiny red spots at the back of the roof of the mouth. You may also develop fever, body aches or rashes, and experience nausea and vomiting.12 If you or someone you know is already showing signs of strep throat, contact a doctor so the disease can be addressed immediately.

What Happens if Strep Throat Isn't Addressed Immediately?

Failure to address strep throat immediately may cause the bacteria to move into other parts of the body and cause infections in the tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, middle ear, brain and spinal canal. You're also at a higher risk for diseases like:13,14,15

  • Acute rheumatic fever
  • Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (kidney inflammation)
  • Scarlet fever
  • Guttate psoriasis16
  • Peritonsillar abscess (pus that develops in your tonsil tissues)17
  • Retropharyngeal abscess (infection located behind the pharynx)
  • Toxic shock syndrome
  • Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS), although this may manifest more  in children between 3 and 12 years old18

It's possible to alleviate the symptoms of strep throat once you notice them, and you can expect the illness to go away in around five days.19 There are also strategies that you can implement in order to prevent strep throat from affecting you, such as properly washing your hands, getting enough rest20 and increasing your vitamin D intake.21

MORE ABOUT STREP THROAT

Strep Throat: Introduction

What Is Strep Throat?

Is Strep Throat Contagious?

Strep Throat Symptoms

Strep Throat Causes

How Do You Get Strep Throat

Strep Throat Without Tonsils

Strep Throat Duration

Strep Throat vs Sore Throat

Strep Throat Treatment

Strep Throat Prevention

Strep Throat Diet

Strep Throat FAQ

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Strep Throat: Introduction

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Is Strep Throat Contagious?