What is Strep Throat?

Sometime in your childhood you were probably diagnosed with strep throat. You likely had a fever, a painful sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. Strep throat is often painful but typically doesn’t last much longer than a week.

Our Utah Ear, Nose and Throat doctors regularly diagnose and treat patients who suffer from strep throat. We’ve written the following articles to help you understand strep throat:

  • What is Strep Throat?
  • What are Strep Throat Symptoms?
  • How is Strep Throat Diagnosed?
  • How is Strep Throat Treated?

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is not a virus. Strep throat is an infection caused by group A streptococcus bacteria that settles in the throat and often makes the throat suddenly feel sore. Typically, strep throat infections are more painful that a sore throat caused by a virus. In fact, since most sore throats are NOT caused by strep throat, a particularly painful sore throat is a good indication that you may have strep throat.

Read: What are Strep Throat Symptoms?

Strep Throat is Highly Contagious

Whether your strep throat symptoms are mild or severe, strep throat is contagious. That means everyone who comes into contact with someone who has strep throat is at risk of catching strep throat.

Think of strep throat as a person-to-person illness that is typically transmitted through close contact between someone who has strep throat and another individual. Strep is contained within the saliva or nasal secretions (mucus) of the contagious person. When that person coughs or sneezes, tiny droplets fly and people nearby come into close contact with the strep bacteria.

Because strep is shared socially, strep bacteria is often found in settings where many people live and work in close proximity. This may include schools, day care centers, airplanes, public transportation and within the home.

Children and teens between the ages of 5 and 15-years old are the most likely to become infected with strep throat. However, people of all ages are impacted by strep throat. Outbreaks of strep throat increase during the school year and often between late fall and early spring.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Strep Throat is Important

Although strep throat often clears up within a week if left untreated, our ENT doctors recommend you seek diagnosis and treatment for strep because strep can lead to complications such as kidney inflammation and rheumatic fever.

Call the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522 to set an appointment.

Read: What are Strep Throat Symptoms?

Read: How is Strep Throat Diagnosed?

Read: How is Strep Throat Treated?

strep throat photo

Strep Throat

If your symptoms and diagnosis confirm strep throat, it’s time for treatment. With the results of the rapid stress test in hand, your ENT doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat strep throat.

We strongly encourage the use of antibiotics for two reasons:

  1. Antibiotics work quickly: Patients are no longer contagious within 24 hours from the time you begin taking antibiotics. That means you can get on with your life by returning to work or school and not worry about infecting others with strep throat.
  2. Antibiotics reduce the severity of strep throat symptoms and risk of complications: Strep throat is painful and the sooner your symptoms disappear, the better you feel. You should expect to feel better quickly, usually within 24 to 36 hours after you start taking antibiotics.

Common Strep Throat Antibiotics

If you or a child is diagnose with strep throat, your doctor will commonly prescribe oral antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin in tablet or liquid form. Both antibiotics are effective in curing strep throat. However, your doctor may prescribe other antibiotics based on the strep throat diagnosis and the unique needs of the patient.

It’s also important to complete the entire prescription even if you begin to feel better quickly. Always follow the prescription plan as prescribed by your doctor.

If you don’t begin to feel better within 48 hours of using the prescribed antibiotics, call the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522.

Ways to Reduce Strep Throat Pain

You can reduce sore throat pain by using throat lozenges and gargling with warm salt water. If bad enough, liquid narcotic medicine may be prescribed. However, if the pain lingers and is particularly strong, you may also choose to reduce sore throat pain and reduce fever by using a variety of over-the-counter medications including ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Your doctor and/or pharmacist will also provide directions for the correct dosage of any prescription or over-the-counter medicines. With all medicines, be sure to read and follow the directions on the label and contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center at 801-328-2522 with questions.

  • Ibuprofen products include Advil, Children’s Advil/Motrin, Motrin, Nuprin, PediaCare Fever etc. Various store brand and generic versions of ibuprofen are also available.
  • Acetaminophen products include Tylenol and Children’s Tylenol. Like ibuprofen, generic versions of acetaminophen are available at most drug stores and are less expensive than the brand name products.

Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center with Strep Throat Questions

While strep throat can be painful, it can also be cured quickly. If you suspect you have strep throat symptoms, our ENT doctors in Salt Lake City, Draper and Park City, Utah can quickly diagnose and treat strep throat. Call 801-328-2522 to set an appointment.