Strep throat is a throat infection caused by a bacterium called streptococcus. Without prompt medical treatment, the infection can spread to other areas of the body and cause complications such as kidney inflammation and damage or rheumatic fever, a serious condition that can cause heart valve damage, joint problems, and other issues. Only a small percentage of sore throats are caused by strep bacteria. Most have other causes. But because strep throat can cause serious issues without treatment, it’s always a good idea to have a sore throat evaluated by Dr. McKenzie to assure you receive the most appropriate treatment.
The most common symptom of strep throat is soreness - sometimes severe - in the throat. Usually, pain develops rapidly. Other symptoms include:
Sometimes, strep infections can cause rashes or nausea.
Strep throat diagnosis starts with a review of your symptoms and an examination of your throat. If Dr. McKenzie suspects a strep infection, you’ll have your throat swabbed using a long-handled, soft-tipped swab. The swabbing isn’t painful, but it can make you feel like you’re going to gag. Fortunately, it takes just a few seconds for Dr. McKenzie to swab your throat and collect a sample that can be analyzed right in the office. The results of the swab test will be able to determine if you have strep throat or if your symptoms are being caused by another issue. When the initial swab test is negative, Dr. McKenzie may collect another swab sample to send to a lab for further evaluation.
Strep throat can be successfully treated with antibiotics. It’s very important to take the full course of the antibiotics prescribed, even if your symptoms clear up. The symptoms can disappear, even though some bacteria are still present. If you stop taking your medications early, those bacteria can multiply and cause the infection to recur. You can manage discomfort with throat lozenges and over-the-counter pain medicine.
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