Strep Throat | Causes | Symptoms | Diagnosis | Treatment
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Strep Throat - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Oct 20, 2020 and last reviewed on Mar 15, 2023   -  5 min read


Strep throat is a bacterial infection affecting the throat. Read this article to know about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.

Strep Throat - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused due to group A Streptococcus bacteria. It can affect children and people of all age groups. It is an air-borne infection. It spreads from one person to another person. It is a contagious disease and spreads through the respiratory droplets and sputum. It is more common in children than in adults.

What Are the Symptoms of Strep Throat?

The symptoms might vary from one person to another person. In some patients, the symptoms might resemble a throat infection or sore throat. The symptoms appear immediately after five days of exposure. The common symptoms are:

What Are the Causes of Strep Throat?

The main cause of strep throat is an infection by a bacteria called streptococcus pyogenes. After getting exposed to the bacteria, if you touch your eyes, nose, and mouth, you have the possibility of getting an infection. Coughing, sneezing, and sharing the food item with the infected person can cause this infection. Coming in contact with the object exposed by them can make you get infected too. The infected person should use separate vessels and tumblers while eating and drinking water.

What Are the Complications of Strep Throat?

  • Rheumatic fever.

  • Ear infections.

  • Scarlet fever.

  • Mastoiditis.

  • Peritonsillar abscess.

  • Kidney disease.

  • Another complication is Guttate psoriasis, a skin condition that causes small, red, scaly spots in the shape of teardrops to pop up on the arms, legs, and middle of the body.

What Is the Diagnosis?

The doctor will clinically check for the signs and symptoms of swelling. The simplest way to diagnose the strep throat is by rapid strep test.

Rapid Strep Test: This test can be performed in the clinic itself. It does not need a laboratory setup. The doctor will use a cotton swab and insert it inside your throat. Make sure not to feel the gag reflex during this procedure. If an individual experiences any nauseating feeling, they should inform the doctor. But it is a small process, and the procedure is usually tolerable. The swab that is collected serves as a sample. This sample may be obtained for another time in order to achieve better results. In small children, this test can be performed by having the child over the parent’s lap. This swab test can identify the presence of bacterial species. Do not rinse the mouth using mouthwash before this procedure. If an individual does so, the bacteria cannot be detected properly. This test is highly recommended, as it is accurate. Another advantage of this test is the less time it takes. The results can be processed within 10 minutes. If the test results are positive, one might have group A Streptococcus infection. If the test result is negative, the person does not have any infection. In the case of positive results, the doctor might prescribe a few antibiotics. If the test results are negative, and the doctor still suspects of an infection, they might be asked to take the throat culture.

Throat Culture: The throat culture is similar to strep throat. In the test, the samples are taken from a deeper region of the throat. This test has many disadvantages. After the swab is collected from the patient, it has to be sent to the laboratory. The culture requires more than 48 hours.

What Are the Treatment Options?

The treatment for strep throat requires both home remedies and medications for complete relief.

Home Remedies:

  • Drink hot water or lukewarm water.

  • Gargle with hot water added with a pinch of salt. Repeat this as many times as possible. This simple technique will provide great relief.

  • Avoid taking cold foods and drinks as they might aggravate your throat infection. Some people may find cold items like curd and yogurt soothing for the throat.

  • Use humidifiers. This can be helpful to moisten the throat. They can ease the symptoms. Too much usage can cause other risks. So use it for the appropriate duration only.

  • Consume hot lemon tea. Drinking milk added with turmeric is the best home remedy for strep throat. If turmeric is not available, try adding pepper.

  • Use throat lozenges for temporary relief. These lozenges can dissolve slowly in the mouth and try to soothe the throat.

  • Use saline nasal sprays to keep the nostrils moist.

  • Avoid crispy and spicy foods.

  • Avoid the agents that cause irritation. Some people are allergic to the smell of petroleum products, paint, and cigarette smoke. If individuals are aware that these might cause allergies or irritation to them, it is wise to stay away from these products.

  • Do not clean a space that is overly polluted with dust.

  • Certain essential oils like eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, and peppermint oil can provide relief. These oils should be applied over the throat and are strictly not for consumption.


The doctor may prescribe antibiotics for strep throat. Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen are recommended for throat pain. Antibiotics can help in reducing the severity of the symptoms. One should always take the medications according to the doctor’s advice. In order to get a complete cure, finish the antibiotic course. The specific drugs that are given for strep throat are Penicillin and Amoxicillin. If a person is allergic to these two drugs, then Azithromycin can be given as an alternate drug.

What Are the Prevention Measures?

  • As it is a contagious infection, staying away from the infected person is the best idea. Kissing, hugging, and sharing common food plates with the affected person should be avoided.

  • Always eat the food after washing your hands. The hygienic measure is the practical possibility to stay away from this infection.

  • Cover the mouth with a handkerchief while coughing and sneezing.

  • Lifestyle modification is the ideal method to protect ourselves from such infections.

  • Proper sanitation should be followed.

What Is the Differential Diagnosis?

  • Infectious mononucleosis.

  • Peritonsillar abscess.

  • Tonsillitis.

What Is the Prognosis of Strep Throat?

Most people with strep throat feel better after a week. If left untreated, strep can cause some remarkably significant complications. Antibiotics usually have a quick effect on the body and the patient feels better within 24 to 48 hours. In seven to ten days, most strep throat symptoms subside.


Overall, strep throat can be painful and uncomfortable, but if it is treated properly, it is usually not dangerous or life-threatening. By taking the right precautions and seeking medical treatment at the right time, one can lower the chances of getting this infection and spreading it.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the First Sign of Strep Throat?

The first sign of strep throat is throat pain. This may be accompanied by difficulty in swallowing. The tonsils will become swollen later, and there might be reddish or white patches. If you experience severe symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.


How Long Does Strep Throat Last?

The strep throat might last for four to five days and resolve on its own without any antibiotics. Many home remedies might help to get treated soon. However, it is wise to get diagnosed by a health care professional. After taking the medications prescribed by your doctor, the strep throat can be healed faster.


Does Strep Throat Make You Tired?

When strep throat occurs, our body’s immune system begins to fight against the bacterial infection. On the process of defense mechanism, the symptoms that could be seen are fever, general body weakness, nausea, and vomiting.


Is Strep Throat Worse in Adults?

Strep throat is commonly seen in children. It is rare in adults. However, you should visit your doctor if it persists for more than two days. Medications such as antibiotics can provide great relief if followed properly.


Is Hot or Cold Better for Strep Throat?

During strep throat, it is necessary to prevent dehydration by continuously drinking liquids. Some patients get relief by drinking warm liquids. This is because warm and boiled water will be free from bacteria. But some patients feel good by taking cold food items. The choice is yours, but make sure you do not take food, which irritates your throat.


Can I Have Strep Without a Fever?

Yes, you can get strep throat without fever. The doctor will examine for any other symptoms to identify strep throat. The fever does not occur in all cases of strep throat. You should seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment.


When Should I Consult the Doctor for a Sore Throat?

You need to visit your doctor if you have the following symptoms:
- There are flu-like symptoms that do not get normal after a few days.
- Fever is higher than 101 degrees F without other cold symptoms.
- You have hoarseness or pain that lasts more than two weeks.
- A child or an adult is having flu-like symptoms.
- Sore throat comes with drooling of saliva or trouble breathing or swallowing.
- Sore throat lingers for more than a week, and you have itchy eyes, sneezing, and postnasal drip.
- Pain that moves to your ear.


Does Strep Come on Suddenly?

If a sore throat comes suddenly, then it is called acute pharyngitis. Bacteria or a virus may be the cause of it. It may occur when there is an infection of the sinuses, airways, or mouth. This further spreads to the throat.


Does Strep Feel Worse at Night?

If the air circulation in your home is dry, then throat and nasal passages could dry out during the night. It is causing you to wake with a sore throat along with itchiness. So, during winter months, it is common for indoor air to be dry. Also, running your heating system in the night dries it out furthermore. This is why strep throat worsens at night.


What Kills a Sore Throat Fast?

Gargling and rinsing using warm salt water can help kill sore throat fastly, and it also helps to kill bacteria in the throat. The saltwater solution is prepared by mixing a half-teaspoon of salt in a full glass of warm water. Gargle it to keep the throat clean. This can also reduce the swelling.

Last reviewed at:
15 Mar 2023  -  5 min read




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