Strep Throat

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Strep throat facts

  • Most sore throats are caused by viruses, not strep bacteria.
  • Symptoms of strep throat in middle-age children and adolescents include:
  • Symptoms associated with an upper respiratory infection (a "cold") are typically absent (for example, nasal congestion, cough, muscle aches and pains, nasal congestion and oral blisters).
  • The diagnosis of strep throat is established either via a rapid strep test (RADT) or a throat culture.
  • Strep throat is cured by appropriate antibiotic therapy.
  • While rare, there are several complications that may develop from a strep throat infection.

What is strep throat and what causes strep throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the soft palate and tonsillar region. Microbiologists specifically identify the member of the Streptococcus bacterial family that causes strep throat as "GAS" (Group A, beta hemolytic, streptococcus pyogenes). Strep throat is most common in young children and adolescents, but it is not unusual in toddlers and adults. It is highly contagious and it is present most commonly in the community during the winter months. Interestingly, the symptoms and physical signs may vary depending upon the age of the infected patient.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/4/2013

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Strep Throat Symptoms

What are the Symptoms and Signs of Strep Throat?

Throat infection with strep bacteria is contagious and can cause a variety of symptoms associated with inflammation of the throat and its nearby structures. Symptoms usually begin within a few days (1-4 days) after contracting the infection (incubation period).

Typical signs of strep throat infection are:

  • fever;

  • swollen, tender lymph nodes on the sides of the neck;

  • white patches seen on the tonsils and throat.

Some other more non-specific signs and symptoms of strep throat which can also be seen in strep throat due to other causes are:

  • sudden onset of sore throat,

  • headache,

  • odynophagia (painful swallowing),

  • nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain,

  • red, swollen soft palate (uvula), and/or

  • rash (diffuse red patchy rash).