Nothing can ruin a day quite like strep throat, the throat’s most common type of bacterial infection. This condition affects a number of areas of the body, and can leave you feeling drained and down for the count. Fortunately, there are ways to cut down your risks of getting strep, as well as natural remedies to speed up your recovery.
The Reason for Your Throat Pain
What we call strep throat is caused by a distinct category of bacteria, called streptococcal bacteria. This type of bacteria has a number of different forms which can vary greatly in intensity. Given this wide range of streptococcal bacteria, it is not surprising that some cases of strep throat can be more severe than others.
It is easy to mistake a typical sore throat for strep throat, but there are differences between the two ailments. Unlike strep throat, which is a bacterial infection, sore throats are caused by viruses, which are not treated by antibiotics. In addition, sore throats tend to be accompanied by a cluster of other symptoms, such as coughing, sneezing and a runny/stuffed nose.
Strep Throat Symptoms & Treatment
Symptoms of strep throat generally appear 2 to 5 days after a person has contracted the streptococcal bacteria, and tend to develop rapidly. They include sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever in excess of 101 degrees, swollen tonsils/lymph nodes and white or yellow spots on the back of a bright red throat. In more severe cases, a patient with strep throat might also come down with headache, nausea, chills, loss of appetite and a general ill feeling.
Antibiotics are usually prescribed to treat strep throat. Patients are generally advised to take these medications for 10 days after their diagnosis. For those weary of the potent effects of strep throat, try giving these natural treatments a shot at alleviating your throat-related symptoms:
- Consume some warm beverages, like lemon tea or tea with honey
- Gargle several times per day with warm salt water, which you can make by adding ½ tsp of salt to a glass of warm water
- Drink or sip on cold liquids
- Suck on popsicles or throat lozenges (be careful not to give lozenges to young children)
- Plug in a cool mist vaporizer or humidifier. These devices increase indoor moisture, which can help soothe your throat
Stopping Strep before it Starts
As with many contagious diseases, you can protect yourself against strep throat by practicing good hygiene. The first step is to keep your distance from people with strep throat. If you share the same living quarters as a person with strep, make sure to wash your hands often, as strep bacteria can live on doorknobs, water faucets and other items that are commonly touched by people. In addition, avoid sharing glasses, eating utensils and toothbrushes with individuals with strep throat. If you do happen to catch strep throat and are concerned about spreading it, use disposable Kleenex instead of handkerchiefs, wash your hand frequently and do not cough on or near others.