How to identify and treat Strep Throat

“Swallowing razor blades or knives”, “not my usual sore throat”, “horrible sore throat and no other symptoms” – these are all things that we hear when patients describe their symptoms of Strep throat. Strep Throat is an abbreviation for Streptococcal Pharyngitis, an infection caused by a special bacteria called Group A Streptococcus Pyogenes. Untreated strep throat can cause Rheumatic Fever, a serious inflammatory disease which can lead to problems with the heart, joints, brain, and skin. One of the most feared complications of Rheumatic Fever is damage to the heart’s valves which could require valve replacement or repair. Timely diagnosis and treatment with an antibiotic such as Amoxicillin or Penicillin can greatly reduce the chances of Rheumatic Fever. Other complications of Strep Throat include kidney problems (post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis), scarlet fever (a rough, sandpapery, rash on the trunk), and PANDA syndrome which are neurologic and psychiatric problems which can develop after a strep infection.

To diagnose Strep Throat, a Rapid Strep test alone or in combination with a Strep Culture can be performed. The Rapid Strep test can be done in a physician’s office after obtaining a swab of the throat. Results are typically available after about 5-10 minutes. Though this rapid test can detect most cases of Strep Throat, sometimes a normal Strep test result needs to be confirmed with a Strep Culture which is sent to a lab and takes 2-3 days to come back. This helps confirm cases of Strep Throat missed by the Rapid Strep test.

Sometimes Strep Throat can be confused with the flu or a common cold, especially in young children who cannot accurately describe a sore throat. If you are worried you or a family member may have strep throat, please call your Primary Care Provider or visit a local Wellstreet Urgent Care where one of our board certified Physicians can help diagnose and treat your sore throat.

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