Throat, Strep Throat

Strep Throat: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, & Treatment

It is essential to understand the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and complications of strep to manage it effectively. Read more about strep and where to find an urgent care center. 

What Is a Strep Throat? 

A specific type of bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A Streptococcus, is the cause of strep, an infection of the tonsils and throat. Young children and adolescents frequently contract strep.

Strep is spread through direct contact with an infected person’s saliva, nasal secretions, and other respiratory secretions. It can also be spread by sharing eating utensils, drinking glasses, and other objects. 

Understanding that strep differs from painful throats brought on by viruses like the cold or the flu is crucial. A bacterial infection brings it on, so antibiotic therapy is necessary to cure it. If left untreated, strep can result in severe side effects like rheumatic fever, kidney issues, and other infections.

If you think you or your child might have strep, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis. To diagnose strep, your doctor will likely perform a throat swab to collect a sample of the bacteria. This sample will be tested in a laboratory to identify the presence of Streptococcus pyogenes. If the test returns positive, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

Causes of Strep Throat

A bacterial infection causes strep throat. Streptococcus bacteria are the primary cause of strep throat. These bacteria are highly contagious and can spread through contact with an infected individual’s respiratory secretions, such as coughing and sneezing.

Symptoms of Strep Throat

Here are the symptoms of strep throat:

  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Painful swallowing
  • Nausea and vomiting (especially in children)
  • Rash (scarlet fever may develop in some cases) 

Note: It is important to remember that these symptoms may vary in severity and may not be present in all cases of strep. Seeking medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms is recommended.

Diagnosis of Strep 

Examination of physicals of the throat and tonsils is usually the first step in diagnosing strep. Laboratory tests, such as a throat culture or a rapid strep test, are also used to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Strep Throat

Antibiotics are the primary treatment for strep throat. Penicillin and amoxicillin are the most commonly prescribed antibiotics. Ibuprofen or paracetamol, two painkillers, can also treat the symptoms. The symptoms can be lessened by using natural remedies like gargling with salt water, consuming warm liquids, and getting plenty of rest.

Complications of Strep

Strep throat can develop complications like rheumatic fever, kidney inflammation, and abscess formation if ignored or poorly handled. These issues call for medical intervention and may result in long-term harm.

Prevention of Strep

Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to prevent strep throat from occurring or spreading. 

  • Regular hand washing is one of the most crucial preventative measures for strep. Particularly after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water is essential. 
  • Another method to lower your risk of contracting strep throat is to avoid close contact with sick people. Try to keep a minimum of 6 feet between you and anyone exhibiting signs. 
  • Avoid sharing items like cups, utensils, and toothbrushes with someone sick. 
  • Get a flu shot every year to reduce the risk of catching the flu, which can make you more vulnerable to strep throat. 
  • Consider using a face mask if you are in close contact with someone sick. 
  • Make sure to get plenty of rest, eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated to maintain a strong immune system.


A common bacterial illness, strep throat, is easily spread by contacting an infected person or object. If you believe that you, a member of your family, or someone else may have strep throat, it is crucial to seek urgent care. Early treatment is essential for reducing the risk of potential complications.

Aspen Medical Center offers primary and urgent care as a privately owned, state-of-the-art primary care practice. Visit our urgent care center in Santa Fe, NM!

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