Well, I don’t know – maybe. Take a look at some of the symptoms, signs, and treatment options below to see if that sore throat is actually a bacteria infection that needs to be treated with antibiotics.
Symptoms and Diagnosis
Strep throat (Streptococcal pharyngitis) is an extremely contagious diseased triggered by an infection caused by streptococcal bacteria. Obviously, the first sign you may have strep throat is an extremely sore throat that lasts more than 3 days.
Other symptoms generally include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, fever, and redness/swelling of the throat and tonsils. The telltale sign that your infected with the bacteria is white or yellow patches on the tonsils. To check for this it’s easiest to have a friend or loved one take a look in a well-lit environment while you open your mouth and say “Ahhhh.”
It’s important to note that most cases of sore throat are, in fact, due to a viral infection, not bacteria. A severe cold can irritate your esophagus and throat to the extent that you may think you’re afflicted with a bacteria infection, but usually that’s not the case. If you’re unsure though, to conclusively determine whether you have strep or not is a really quick and easy process that just takes a few minutes to collect a throat culture and test in the lab. Visit any of our locations and head to the lab to have a throat culture collected.
Seek emergency care if…
If your sore throat is accompanied by any of the following symptoms, seek emergency care immediately:
- Inability or extreme difficulty swallowing food
- Wheezing or labored breathing
- Extreme swelling and redness of the neck
- Unable to swallow saliva and/or drooling
Although these signs are related to strep throat infection they can also be strong indicators of more severe conditions, such as: esophageal strictures, epiglottitis, or tenaus (lockjaw).
When strep throat is confirmed through laboratory testing, antibiotics are prescribed. If administered early in the process the antibiotics can actually decrease the duration of the symptoms (generally 1 day). After about the same amount of time you’re far less contagious. Without antibiotic treatment strep will eventually clear up on it’s own – it just take 4-6 days to fully recover, when the antibiotic gets you back on your feet in 2-3 days, tops. The full course of antibiotics should be taken, even if the symptoms dramatically improve after the first few doses.
Well, hopefully you don’t have strep and this information helped you answer some questions. Whatever the case, please don’t cough on me.