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Strep throat is formed from bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes. Often, patients confuse a sore throat with strep throat, as it can arise from the causes of a sore throat, such as GERD, seasonal allergies, and post-nasal drip.
While sore throats can be soothed by gargling salt water or drinking hot tea with honey, this isn’t the case with strep. Antibiotics will be needed to keep you out of harm’s way and will help you feel better in a few days. If you have strep but don’t have access to healthcare or simply choose to go without a doctor’s treatment, it can become dangerous if proper treatment is delayed. After nine days of no treatment, you will be at risk of developing long term kidney problems or rheumatic fever, which can create a severe disease in the heart valves.
So how can you tell if you have strep? Here are some signs to look out for.
- Sore throat. This is the most obvious symptom, although it’s not always present with strep.
- Swollen lymph nodes. Touch the nodes on the sides of your neck – are they tender or enlarged? They will enlarge when viral infections are present.
- Strep most commonly presents itself with a fever of at least 100.5.
- This isn’t always present but is a possibility with strep. If you have a red and warm sandpaper-like rash over your abdomen or chest, then it’s likely that strep is the reason behind the infection.
- Trouble swallowing. Strep causes a decrease in appetite and makes swallowing painful.
- Headaches and body aches. Headaches and body aches are from dehydration or fever. Strep also causes an inflammatory response that affects the joints and neck, creating a feeling of stiffness and pain.
- White patches on the tonsils or throat. Large white patches will be spotted on the back of the throat.