Most common in children under the age of 16 and adults working in childcare, strep throat is an infectious disease that is prevalent in the colder months. Symptoms can take up to five days to appear once you have been infected with the virus and can quickly spread through homes, schools and the workplace. Learn more about the symptoms and how you can prevent a case:
Symptoms of Strep Throat
Symptoms of the strep throat virus can take several days to fully set in, beginning with mild aches, a fever and persistent sneezing and coughing, especially for the first several days. After the virus has fully developed, symptoms may include:
- Tonsil irritation, including white patches in the back of the mouth
- Red spots on the roof of the mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain while swallowing
How Does Strep Throat Spread?
The virus originates in the nose and throat, spreading through sneezing and coughing. Droplets are expelled from the infected person and float through the air until they land in the throat or nose of a neighboring person, or on an object. If the droplets land on a cup or utensil and someone uses it without washing it, they are at risk for catching the virus. The virus can also spread if someone handles an object that has been contaminated and then touches their mouth or nose without washing their hands first. Children are the most at-risk for catching strep throat, as well as adults who spend most of their time with children. One out of every ten cases of an adult presenting with a sore throat develops into strep over several days.
Treating a Case of Strep Throat
If you begin to exhibit symptoms of strep throat, you should visit a doctor to have a swab test performed on your throat and tonsils. Using material swabbed from the back of your mouth, your doctor will be able to perform a rapid strep test and a throat culture. A rapid strep test can provide results quickly, indicating whether or not the virus is present. If the test comes back as negative, your doctor may elect to run a culture. A culture will take longer to process but provides more comprehensive findings, including other infections that may be present in the body but undetectable during a rapid test. As they are more prone to developing rheumatoid fever as a complication from strep throat, cultures are commonly taken in teenagers and younger children. After the test results have come back, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics in order to treat strep throat.
If you are exhibiting symptoms of strep throat, please visit your local AFC Urgent Care Center for diagnosis and treatment.