What is strep throat?
Strep throat is a sore throat caused by bacteria known as
Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus. Sore throat is a
term for any situation where the throat feels scratchy, tender,
and possibly painful. Strep throat is a type of sore throat. Sore
throat may be caused by bacteria or viruses, while strep throat is
only caused by bacteria. The term strep throat is more commonly
used in the USA and Canada, compared to other English speaking
countries. Strep throat may also be referred to as Streptococcal
pharyngitis or streptococcal sore throat.
Streptococcal bacteria are extremely contagious and can spread
through airborne droplets when a sick person sneezes or coughs.
People may also become infected by touching surfaces which an
infected person had previously touched, such as a doorknob,
kitchen utensils and bathroom objects. Most sore throats are not
usually serious and the infected person generally improves within
three to seven days without treatment. They are more common among
children and adolescents. This is because younger people's bodies
have not been exposed to as many viruses and bacteria as older
people's - they have not built up immunity to many of them. It is
not uncommon for people of any age to have a couple of bouts of
sore throat in a one-year period.
What are the causes of sore throat?
The following conditions generally include a sore throat. These
conditions are usually caused by an infection:
The common cold
Sore throat is usually caused by inflammation (swelling) in the
back of the throat (oropharynx) and tonsils (laryngeal lymphoid
Cancer (extremely rare)
Throat surgery (Licorice gargle helps sore throat symptoms after
Alcohol consumption (rare)
Acid reflux (gastro-esophageal reflux)
Screaming for a long time (e.g. fans during a sporting event)
What are the signs and symptoms of sore
Tender and swollen neck glands
Pain in the back of the throat
Tenderness in the back of the throat
Pain or discomfort when swallowing
Fever (definitely an infection)
Bodily aches (probably an infection)
Headache (probably an infection)
Tiredness (probably an infection, possibly other reasons)
What are the signs and symptoms of strep
Strep throat is an infection, while sore throat may or may not be.
The signs and symptoms below refer just to strep throat:
Pain in the throat.
Tonsils are painful and/or swollen. Sometimes with white patches,
and/or streaks of pus.
Very small red sports may appear on the soft part of the palate
(roof of the mouth).
Nodes (lymph glands) of the neck are swollen and tender.
Stomachache. Children may have nausea and vomiting.
Although these symptoms are typical of strep throat, they could
also be caused by a virus, tonsillitis or some other illness.
However, a doctor should be consulted if the symptoms and signs
are present - especially a fever. Conversely, people with strep
throat may sometimes have no signs or symptoms - these people
might not feel ill, but can pass the infection onto other people.
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