Sore throats are extremely common and can have a variety of causes, which can range from viruses, bacteria, or allergies. Many times a sore throat will heal on its own, without treatment, however some infections may require an antibiotic.
When a sore throat lasts more than a day and is accompanied by a fever, it could be a sign of strep throat.
Caused by the streptococcus bacteria, strep throat is most common in children ages 5 to 15, but adults can contract the infection, too. Strep bacteria spread when a person comes in contact with water droplets from an infected person's cough or sneeze. Sharing food or drink dishes with someone who has strep can also spread the illness.
Symptoms can be mild or severe depending on the individual, who will usually start feeling symptoms two to five days after coming into contact with the strep bacteria. Fever is common for those with strep, as well as a red and sore throat. Other symptoms can include feeling very ill and tired, experiencing headache, and nausea.
Since there are so many different things that can cause a sore throat, a test is the only sure way to see if someone has strep throat. From there, your physician can determine the best course of treatment and if you need antibiotics.
The good news for people with strep throat is, with the use of an antibiotic, they generally start feeling better within a day or two. While reducing symptoms quickly, antibiotic treatments also help prevent the spread of infection to friends and family members. Antibiotics can also prevent complications that, although rare, can occur from strep throat.
There isn’t a vaccine for strep throat, but there are many ways to lessen your chance of getting the disease. Like many infections, the best way to prevent strep throat is by regularly washing hands and by avoiding the sharing of dishes and utensils with other people. Anyone with strep throat should be especially vigilant in washing hands regularly and covering their coughs and sneezes.