Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat. It is caused by group A streptococcus bacteria hence many physicians refer it as strep throat. The condition is common among children and adults, but the ratio in children is more than adults. Though strep throat infection is prevalent throughout the year, cases of streptococcal throat are at its peak during winter and spring. Strep throat is a contagious infection, and it can spread by contact with an infected person’s saliva or throat secretions. A person suffering from streptococcal throat requires an urgent medical attention, since neglecting it can cause complications such as rheumatic fever.
Causes of Strep Throat
- Children between the ages of 5 to 15 are affected more than adults, though the infection is also prevalent in adults.
- The disease is spread by airborne droplets due to coughing and sneezing or personal contact with infected saliva and throat secretions.
- Streptococcus at a given time can be present on the skin surface or in the throat, but they are not always infectious. Damage to the lining of the throat and or low immunity favors spread of infection in the individual.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol can damage the throat lining and it becomes a ground for streptococcal bacteria to multiply and produce strep throat symptoms. Besides, smoking and alcohol can also lower your immunity.
- Constant acid reflux is also one of the reasons that favor strep throat infection.
- People suffering from certain diseases such as HIV infection, cancer or taking immune suppressing medicines are at a risk of contracting the ailment.
Common Symptoms of Strep Throat
The onset of strep throat is sudden. The symptoms of streptococcal sore throat can be mild or severe depending on patient’s resistance and immunity.
Sore throat, fever, shivering, headache, and vomiting are often presenting symptoms of strep throat. There may be inflammation of the tonsils and the uvula, the hanging structure at the back of the mouth. Many times the enlarged tonsils are covered with pus like white exudates. The white pus like material can be easily wiped off. The lymph nodes that drain in the tonsilar region are enlarged and tender.
Generalized weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, small red dots on the upper palate, skin rash are some of the symptoms that can be found in strep throat.
The complications of strep throat include tonsillitis, otitis media a middle ear infection, rheumatic fever, and kidney complication, damage to heart valves.
How to Treat Strep Throat with Home Remedies
Doctors prescribe antibiotics when they diagnose the cause as streptococcal throat infection.
There are certain preventive measures that can definitely reduce the chances of spread. Maintaining proper hygiene helps to reduce the spread of infection. Clean your hands before eating food or when they become dirty. Use a handkerchief or your sleeve while you cough to prevent the droplets spreading in the air. Avoid person to person contact with the patient who is suffering from strep throat. Do not use same utensils and glasses shared by the patient.
Home remedies can play a complementary role besides the prescribed antibiotics by your doctor.
- When a person suffers from strep throat, he needs plenty of rest and sleep. It helps to fight the infection.
- Drink water now and then. Drinking water prevents dehydration; it helps to keep the throat well lubricated and moist. Drink lukewarm water, it is more beneficial as it soothes the throat.
- For first few days, since swallowing solid food may hurt the throat, eat and drink semi solid and liquid food. Soups, mashed potatoes, mashed rice, porridge, yogurt, egg white and yolk mixed in milk, etc are beneficial.
- Avoid foods that irritate your throat such as spicy and fried food.
- Warm salt water gargling is effective in alleviating pain in the throat caused due to soreness and inflammation.
- Echinacea gargles are also effective in alleviating the symptoms. Add few drops of Echinacea tincture in a glass of warm water and gargle it twice in a day. The herb Echinacea has natural antibacterial properties.
- Herbal tea mixed with honey also helps to soothe the throat.