Basically, strep throat is caused by the streptococcal bacteria, and is spread by close contact with someone who has the illness. Usually the infected person coughs or sneezes, spreading the disease. Untreated patients are very infectious for 2-4 weeks after the beginning of the infection.
The most common symptoms of Strep Throat are a very red, sore throat. Often there are white patches on the tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, fever and headache, upset stomach and vomiting. Often the sore throat comes on rapidly, and the fever can sometimes be greater than 102 degrees.
Best treatment for Strep Throat is usually antibiotics. Antibiotics will quickly reduce symptoms, and reduce the chances of complications. Penicillin is usually given as the antibiotic of choice, but since a lot of folks are allergic to Penicillin, the doctor may prescribe Erythromycin instead. Other antibiotics that are effective include amoxicillin, and cephalosporin. Although Strep throat symptoms may subside within 4 days even without treatment, it is very important to be treated by a doctor, and to complete the full course of antibiotics to prevent severe complications such as heart or kidney troubles. Amoxicillin should be avoided as a treatment of a sore throat if bacterial (swab) confirmation has not been obtained as it causes a distinctive rash should the true illness prove to be Glandular Fever instead of Strep Throat. In most cases, a standard dose of penicillin, taken for 10 days, will cure the strep throat infection without any problems. Relief from the sore throat should come within 24 to 48 hours after you start taking antibiotics. Doctors recommend throat sprays and lozenges to help ease the throat pain until the antibiotics start helping.
Strep Throat is very contagious, so the best line of prevention is to stay away from those that have it. Wash all drinking and eating utensils in very hot soapy water. If caring for an infected person, the caregiver should wash hands often after contact. Another way to help prevent strep throat is to try to reduce your stress, get plenty of rest and other things that help keep the body’s defenses strong.