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Strep Throat Symptoms and Treatment

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Strep Throat Symptoms and Treatment

You can go from feeling excellent to terrible in an instant when you have strep throat. The illness comes on fast, and before you know it, you're nursing a sore throat, fighting a fever, and trying to manage other painful symptoms. Find out what to expect if you have strep throat and learn when to seek help at Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care. 

What Causes Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the tonsils and throat. It's highly contagious, spreading from person to person through oral and nasal secretions and direct contact with others. If you've been exposed, you can expect to develop symptoms within two to five days, and it takes up to five days for the infection to run its course as long as you don't develop complications.

Because of the high risk of complications and uncomfortable symptoms, it's a good idea to visit urgent care for strep throat medication if you're infected.

Strep Throat Symptoms

Strep throat symptoms generally come on suddenly and can be quite painful. It causes a wide range of symptoms that vary from mild to severe and can worsen if you develop complications. If you have strep throat, you can expect to experience the following symptoms:

  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Sore throat
  • Redness and swelling on the tonsils
  • Sudden fever that typically peaks on the second day of symptoms
  • Small red spots located on the roof of the mouth
  • Streaks of pus or white patches on the tonsils
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes in the neck

While less common, some people also experience headaches, stomach pain, and nausea or vomiting. People of all ages can come down with these symptoms, but nausea and vomiting are more common in small children.

Sore Throat

Untreated Strep Throat – Possible Complications

If left untreated, the A Streptococcus bacterium can spread to other body parts, leading to potentially serious complications. Without treatment, you can develop sinus or ear infections, abscesses on your neck or tonsils, rheumatic fever, and kidney inflammation. These complications are why strep throat treatment is recommended at the first onset of symptoms.

Diagnosing Strep Throat

Three types of tests are used to diagnose strep throat, and each begins with a swab of the throat. Rapid antigen tests are commonly used because they provide results within minutes. Unfortunately, rapid tests occasionally bring back false negative results.

If you get a negative test result but have strep throat symptoms, your doctor might order a molecular PCR test or a throat culture. A throat culture is the most accurate, but it takes up to 48 hours to get the results.

Strep Throat Treatment Options

While some people try over-the-counter strep throat medication, antibiotics are the most effective treatment. Oral antibiotics reduce the duration of symptoms and the likelihood of complications, such as rheumatoid fever or kidney infections. Also, you're less likely to transmit the infection to other people once you start on antibiotics.

People generally feel better within 24 hours of starting antibiotics, but you need to stay on them for the complete treatment, which usually lasts ten days. If you stop taking the antibiotics earlier than recommended, your symptoms could worsen. Additionally, the bacteria might become resistant to the antibiotics, making the symptoms much more severe. Strep throat medication isn't nearly as effective when that happens.

Returning to Work or School After a Strep Throat Diagnosis

If you don't take medication for strep throat, you might be contagious for up to three weeks or longer if complications develop. Taking antibiotics dramatically reduces the amount of time you're contagious, though. You'll be less contagious within one to two days of starting treatment.

If you need to return to work or your kids need to go back to school quickly, start by getting tested for strep and starting antibiotics. Patients can return to work or school 12 hours after starting antibiotics if they don't have a fever.

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care

Feel Better Faster with Strep Throat Treatment

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care's emergency room is open 24/7, and urgent care is available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Appointments are unnecessary - walk in, and our healthcare professionals are ready to help at both of our locations.

Navarre - 8888 Navarre Pkwy., Navarre, FL 32566. Call the center at 850-750-5698.

Nine Mile - 9400 University Parkway Suite 101A Pensacola, FL 32514. Call the center at 448-227-4600.

Baptist Emergency Room & Urgent Care is comprised of board-certified ER-trained physicians and professionally trained ER nurses who deliver quality medical care. Our urgent care and emergency room can effectively treat various medical conditions. From fever to fractures, allergies to abdominal pain, and colds to concussions, we have you covered with on-site labs, CT, X-rays, and ultrasound.