Strep throat is a contagious infection cause by the bacterium called streptococcus. It is a fairly common childhood disease, but it affects adults as well. Bacteria can dwell in the mouth of an infected person for quite a long time, for weeks or months even, without expressing any symptoms. Strep throat in adults usually causes significant discomfort and pain, swelling, and fever. It should be treated as soon as it is diagnosed, otherwise it may cause pustules and require a surgical intervention.
Strep throat is spread through direct contact with an infected person or in contact with droplets that land on objects after an infected person has coughed or sneezed. The bacteria can also be transmitted through contaminated food.
People who smoke and spend time in crowded, poorly cleaned and ventilated places are more prone to strep throat.
Signs and symptoms of strep throat in adults
The main sign of strep throat is sore throat and difficulty swallowing, due to swollen glands in the neck. Strep throat causes fatigue, muscle weakness and pain, vomiting, high fever, headache, loss of appetite, pain in the lower abdomen, red and sore tongue, white patches inside the throat and enlarged and inflamed tonsils.
Diagnosis and treatment of strep throat in adults
If one or more of the signs and symptoms of strep throat are present, it is highly recommended to see a doctor. The sooner the infection is diagnosed, the more effective and complete the recovery will be.
Doctors diagnose strep throat based on physical exam, history and symptoms reported by the patient. In order to determine the cause of the infection, they perform tests, like rapid strep test, which provides an instant answer, and throat culture test, which is a gold standard and provides a definitive diagnose.
When doing a throat culture, doctors use a long cotton swab to collect a sample from deep inside the patient’s mouth and send it to the laboratory. If the culture comes back positive to streptococcus, doctors can definitely diagnose the infection and proceed with treatment.
Strep throat is treated with antibiotics. It is very important to follow the doctor’s orders and take as much antibiotics as he or she prescribed, because the symptoms may subside very soon but the bacteria will still be present. If the antibiotics are discontinued before due time, it may result in building resistance to the specific antibiotic and in recurring strep infections.
Painkillers and Throat lozenges can be taken to relieve the pain, and there are also medications that reduce high fever. Doctors recommend rest and taking a lot of fluids, especially warm soup, herbal tea, yogurt and plain water.