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Strep Throat 

Introduction

Strep throat is a common type of sore throat.  The germ that causes strep throat is spread from person to person in saliva and nasal secretions.  Strep throat is treated with antibiotics.  You can help prevent the spread of strep throat with regular hand washing and by covering your mouth and nose whenever you cough or sneeze.

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Anatomy

Two tonsils are located in the back of the throat.  Two adenoids are positioned in your upper throat in the area behind your nose.  The tonsils and adenoids are glands that filter germs that enter through your nose and mouth to help keep you healthy.

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Causes
Strep throat is caused by bacteria (Group A Streptococcus).  It is contagious; meaning it can be spread in saliva or nasal secretions from one person to another. 

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Symptoms
The symptoms of strep throat develop 2-5 days after the germ is contracted.  The sore throat can range from mild to severe.  Your throat may feel swollen and have whitish yellow spots on it.  You may also experience fever, headache, stomachache, nausea, chills, or rash. 

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Diagnosis
A doctor can diagnose strep throat by  examining you and conducting some tests.  A rapid strep test can give results in just one hour.  A throat culture and blood tests may also be used.

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Treatment
Confirmed cases of strep throat are treated with prescription antibiotics.  You should stay home from work or school for 24-48 hours after starting antibiotics to prevent spreading strep to other people.

Drinking liquids or sucking on popsicles can help ease symptoms.  Sucking on throat lozenges or hard candy can help increase saliva to ease symptoms.  Gargling with a solution made of ½ teaspoon of salt in 1 cup of water several times a day is a popular home remedy.  A vaporizer or humidifier can increase the humidity in a room and make breathing easier.

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Prevention
You should wash your hands with soap and water regularly.  Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.

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Am I at Risk

Children between the ages of 5 and 15 most frequently experience strep throat, although people of all ages can develop the condition.

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Complications
Although it is rare, complications from strep throat include arthritis and rheumatic fever.  Treatment with antibiotics helps to reduce such complications.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit www.iHealthSpot.com.