Strep throat – Symptoms and causes

Understanding Strep Throat: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Strep throat, also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, is a common bacterial infection of the throat. While generally mild, it can cause significant discomfort and disrupt daily activities.

Symptoms of Strep Throat:

  • Sudden sore throat, often described as “scratchy” or “burning”
  • Fever, often high (around 101°F or 38°C)
  • Redness and swelling of the tonsils, sometimes with white pus patches
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomachache
  • Nausea or vomiting (less common)

It’s important to note:

  • Not everyone with a sore throat has strep throat. Viral infections can also cause similar symptoms, including cough and runny nose, which are typically absent in strep throat.
  • Symptoms of strep throat can vary, and some individuals may only experience a few.

Causes of Strep Throat:

Strep throat is caused by a group of bacteria called group A Streptococcus (GAS). It spreads through close contact with an infected person, primarily through:

  • Droplets from coughs or sneezes
  • Sharing utensils or drinks
  • Touching an infected person’s nose or mouth and then touching your own face

Diagnosis of Strep Throat:

A healthcare professional can diagnose strep throat through:

  • Physical examination: Checking for telltale signs like swollen tonsils and white patches.
  • Rapid strep test: A quick swab test that provides results within minutes.
  • Throat culture: A more sensitive test, but results may take a day or two.

Treatment of Strep Throat:

Strep throat is typically treated with antibiotics to eradicate the bacteria and alleviate symptoms. Completing the entire course of antibiotics is crucial, even if symptoms improve quickly, to prevent complications.

Complications of Strep Throat:

While uncommon, untreated strep throat can lead to complications like:

  • Rheumatic fever: This can affect the heart, joints, skin, and nervous system.
  • Kidney inflammation (glomerulonephritis): This can cause high blood pressure and other kidney problems.

Prevention of Strep Throat:

  • Frequent handwashing, especially before eating and after using the restroom.
  • Avoiding close contact with individuals who are sick.
  • Practicing good cough etiquette by covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
  • Not sharing personal items like utensils or drinks.


  • If you experience symptoms suggestive of strep throat, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
  • Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and ensure a speedy recovery.
  • Strep throat is highly contagious, so practicing good hygiene and preventive measures is crucial to avoid spreading the infection to others.