Roughly 10% of children who will wake up tomorrow morning complaining that their throat is sore will actually be infected by Group A streptococci, or what is more commonly known as strep throat. Strep throat is really caused by a bacterial infection rather than a viral infection as is commonly assumed.
Those nasty little bacterial critters worm their way into your throat and inflame the lining of the pharynx. Although common to the point of being one of those conditions generally regarded as a natural occurrence that must be dealt with, if strep throat isn’t treated quickly problems can arise, including rheumatic fever, which can bring about arthritis, heart problems, and nephritis. Nephritis is a disorder characterized by an inflammation of kidney tissue.
Strep throat can also lead to Scarlet Fever, which takes the form of rash on the skin that typically begins either in the armpits or around the pubis before spreading. Unfortunately, one cannot merely look into another’s mouth and determine whether that sore throat is a simple sore throat or the more dangerous strep. If you suspect that either your sore throat or your child’s is something more, it is best to get to a doctor so a throat culture can be taken to determine for sure.
That is not to say that strep throat doesn’t have some recognizable symptoms. To begin with, if you or your loved one’s head is afire and the temperature reading tops 101 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a pretty decent possibility it is more than a nagging ache in the larynx. Another pretty sure sign you’ve got strep throat is the truly attractive sight of having pus around your tonsils or where you tonsils used to be if you had them removed. Additionally, if you notice a significantly swollen area where your jaw and neck intersect, that’s a sure sign to get to a doctor and have that culture taken. If you suffer from all those symptoms, but are still negligent about calling up the doctor here’s one more. We’ve all had colds and sore throats that we’ve bounced back from in a day or three. You know what that feels like. If you have all these other symptoms AND also have the sneaky sensation that you are feeling sicker than normal and this one is a bit more than just a common cold, it is best to get it checked for sure just to rule out strep throat. For my sake and others who don’t want you coughing on us if not for your own.
Strep throat cannot be treated with simple over the counter remedies; it absolutely requires a co-pay to your family physician and a wait inside his office. Once you do get in there and are determined to actually suffer from strep throat, you will probably be sent home with a prescription for antibiotics.
Unfortunately, the antibiotics won’t actually do much in the way of reducing the pain of that sore throat. To alleviate the pain, don’t bother with over the counter medication; instead try the old-fashioned approach of gargling a mixture of salted warm water, or tea sweetened with honey. You can also try sucking on popsicles, but definitely avoid drinking anything that is acidic or based on a citrus fruit. Children and teenagers should not be given because of the potential for developing Reye’s syndrome. If you are pregnant and come down with strep throat, always get the advice of your doctor before taking any medication, including over the counter pain relief. The antibiotics should work their magic in about ten days and be sure to take every single of the pills even if you are already out and about and acting like your own hipster doofus self.
The important thing to remember is that if you don’t want to go through all this trouble again, the best way to avoid a repeat visit from the bacteria that causes such misery is to keep your hands washed and, if possible, refrain from such activities as kissing someone else who wakes up complaining of a sore throat. Frankly, that doesn’t work for me; I’m more than willing to pay the price of strep throat if the payoff for me is long, passionate kisses from my wife that leave my toes curled backward.