Strep Throat: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Woman holding her throat with discomfort.

Do you have a sore throat?

While a sore throat can be an indicator of many different illnesses and viral infections, there are some symptoms that can set strep throat apart from others. The key to getting better is determining what is the cause of your illness, which is why we will take a closer look at strep throat in this article, including the causes, symptoms and treatment.

What Causes Strep Throat?

Strep throat is one of the most common bacterial infections that can lead to a sore throat. In fact, it accounts for about 5-15% of all sore throats in adults and 20-30% of sore throats in children. Strep throat is caused by a bacterium belonging to the class known as Group A Streptococcus (GAS).

Streptococci are just about everywhere, often carried on a person’s skin or within their throat. Strep throat is often transmitted from person to person in the same manner as cold viruses, by coughing, sneezing or getting bodily fluids on the hand and then touching surfaces or others.

Common Strep Throat Symptoms

The following symptoms can be caused by strep throat:

  • Fever of greater than 38°C (100.4°F)
  • Chills and sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sore throat
  • Swollen tonsils and lymph nodes in the neck
  • White patches on the tonsils

Signs It’s Not Strep Throat

There are several symptoms that are generally not associated with strep throat. Coughing, runny nose, sneezing, and stuffiness are symptoms of a viral infection, not strep throat. It’s also rare to experience a hoarse voice, as streptococcus does not generally invade the larynx (voice box). Although, it is possible to have both a viral and bacterial infection at the same time.

No matter your symptoms, an official diagnosis should always be received from a physician. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, contact your health care provider to take the necessary steps toward your best health. The test for strep throat is facilitated and administered by a doctor and is generally quick and easy. If you reside in Alberta, your local pharmacist can do this testing. The first sign that a doctor will look for is a red and inflamed uvula and/or tonsils, dotted with pus deposits. The standard test is a throat swab to gather bacteria found in the back of the throat, which is sent to a lab for testing or can be done at the doctor’s office using a special kit. Results can take a few days to come in, so it is suggested that you stay home to rest, and to prevent the spread to others.

Strep Throat Treatment Options

While most strep throat inflections will actually go away on their own without treatment, antibiotics can be prescribed to help prevent worse symptoms or rare, yet serious, complications.

Here are some helpful tips that can help you to stay healthy and feel better, despite the presence of streptococcus bacteria:

  • If prescribed with antibiotics, finish the prescription even if symptoms are gone
  • Children with strep throat should stay home and not return to school until they have been on antibiotics for at least a full 24 hours
  • Both adults and children should cover their nose and mouth if they need to sneeze, for instance with a tissue or into their elbow
  • When taking antibiotics, eating yogurt with live Lactobacillus acidophilus can help to replace the “good” bacteria
  • Stay home to rest, wash your hands frequently and disinfect high-touch surfaces around your home

For more information about strep throat causes, symptoms or treatment, speak with your doctor or local PharmaChoice pharmacist.

Your Local PharmaChoice Pharmacy

Find your nearest PharmaChoice using the online pharmacy locator or visit our Advice for Life section for more helpful information. The following areas can help to educate you with health information and community support:

Your local PharmaChoice pharmacy has an expert team of healthcare professionals who are dedicated to helping you to live a healthier and happier lifestyle. Whether you have questions about strep throat, are looking for the right vitamins to support your health or would like to review your prescription medication during a consultation, your pharmacist may be able to help.