Sore Throat/Strep Throat
A sore throat can be caused by both viral and bacterial infections. When a sore throat is due to a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu, it usually resolves on its own.
Sore Throat Symptoms
Scratchy or irritated throat
Increased irritation when talking or swallowing
Strep throat is caused by a highly contagious bacterial infection known as Steptococcus pyogenes – also called group A streptococcus. The infection makes your throat extremely sore, with painful swallowing.
If you have strep, antibiotics are used to alleviate the infection more quickly, to prevent worsening of symptoms, and to prevent complications, such as rheumatic fever.
Because it easily spreads in groups, strep throat commonly occurs in children and is more prevalent from late fall until early spring.
Diagnosing Strep Throat
Many of the symptoms above can be caused by viral infections and other illnesses. That’s why medical professionals will conduct a test to confirm strep.
There are two tests used to diagnose strep:
1. Rapid antigen test
This is usually the first test performed because it can detect strep in minutes. Your physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner will swab your throat and will test the swab to see if any antigens are present. A positive test means that you have strep.
2. Throat culture
If the rapid antigen test came back negative and strep is still suspected, your physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner may perform a throat culture.
The back of the throat and tonsils are swabbed and the sample is then sent to a lab to be cultured and tested for bacteria.
The results may take several days to receive. We will call you as soon as we receive your results.
Treating Strep Throat
If strep is confirmed, your physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner will recommend treatment and prescribe medication to begin right away. Because it is a bacterial infection, you will be prescribed antibiotics.
In addition to taking antibiotics, here are some other ways to help you feel better:
Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids.
Eat soft, cold foods to soothe your throat.
Gargle a glass of warm salt water several times a day.