Strep throat is a contagious throat infection that is caused by Group A streptococcal bacteria, to be more specific, by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. This infection causes inflammation in the throat and the tonsils, as the bacteria invade the pharyngeal tissue. Therefore, the mucous membrane that lines the throat and tonsils, are inflamed and swelled.
Group A streptococcal bacteria can often be found in the throat as well as on the skin. It can cause strep throat as well as other skin diseases. Some people carry the bacteria, but are asymptomatic, which means that they do not exhibit any signs and symptoms of any disease caused by the bacteria.
Usually, teens and school-aged children are affected by the streptococcal bacteria. Children aged between 5 and 15 years are mostly affected by this bacterium. Though adults too can have strep throat, the chances are quite low, accounting for only 5 to 10% of all strep throat cases. Strep throat occurs or the bacteria is most active between late fall and early spring.
How Long Does Strep Throat Last?
Strep throat is quite a serious condition that demands immediate diagnosis and early treatment in order to make sure that the infection does not lead to other serious health conditions. Often, strep throat is mistaken to be only sore throat, which can be a symptom of pharyngitis. While sore throat usually gets treated on its own within a few days, strep throat demands medical intervention. Otherwise, the infection may spread and it can lead to other diseases such as pneumonia, meningitis, sinusitis, otitis media, scarlet fever, acute rheumatic fever, mastoiditis and many more.
Strep throat is treated by antibiotics. As soon as antibiotic course is started, the symptoms of strep throat start to go away within 24 hours of the first dose of antibiotics. Within 5 days of the antibiotic course, strep throat should be treated. So, with treatment, strep throat should not last for more than 2 to 5 days. However, if strep throat lasts for longer, there are chances that the condition is caused by some other disease or the infection has spread to other parts of the body.
If you do not take antibiotics to treat strep throat, you may remain contagious for about 3 months or until strep throat is treated completely. If strep throat is not treated with antibiotics, it can also lead to other conditions.
Treatments to Get Rid of Strep Throat
As already mentioned, strep throat is a serious condition that must be treated as soon as possible since the streptococcal bacteria may spread to other body parts causing other serious health conditions and diseases. The best way to treat strep throat is with antibiotics.
The doctor will prescribe antibiotics for the patient of strep throat. If your child is getting an antibiotic, the symptoms of strep throat will go away within 24 hours. As soon as the symptoms start to dilute, one may go back to school or college or work and the condition is no more contagious. However, if the symptoms still persist even after 48 hours of taking the antibiotics, you should call your doctor.
The antibiotics will help to treat the infection. However, in order to get relief from the additional symptoms caused by the strep throat inflammation and infection such as fever, pain in the throat especially while swallowing etc. the doctor will prescribe some over-the-counter medicines. Over-the-counter medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen etc. are given to reduce the fever and to relieve the pain caused by strep throat. However, of course, be cautious and careful while giving these over-the-counter medicines to young children and teens.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Strep Throat
When you suffer from strep throat, there are quite a number of additional symptoms that need to be taken care of. The antibiotics will certainly help you to get rid of the infection. However, to deal with the other additional conditions, you need to follow these home remedies:
Gargling With Warm Salt Water:
Strep throat swells and inflames the tonsils and this makes swallowing painful. In order to relieve the pain, you should gargle with warm salt water as that is one of the most effective home remedies to treat throat infection. Add a quarter teaspoon of table salt or Himalayan salt with a cup of warm water and gargle with it. Gargle as many times in the day as possible to get maximum relief. However, make sure that you spit out the gargled water and not swallow it.
Drink Water to Get Rid of Strep Throat:
Since, strep throat causes difficulty in swallowing; you end up drinking less water than what your body needs. You should try to drink as much water as possible in order to keep yourself hydrated and also to keep the throat moist in order to reduce the difficulty of swallowing.
Check What You Eat and Drink:
You should eat foods that are easy to swallow. Broths, soups, juices, porridge cereals etc. are the sort of foods that you should eat more at this time in order to reduce the pain. Also, try to avoid foods that are spicy and acidic.
As you suffer from strep throat, you should also try to use an air humidifier, so that breathing is easier. You can also use a nasal spray to keep your mucous membrane moist. However, make sure that you clean the humidifier so that it does not become a storehouse for bacteria and molds. Also, stay away from irritants such as paints or smoke from cigarettes as these will only increase your irritation.