Strep Throat

Overview of Strep Throat

Streptococcal pharyngitis, commonly known as strep throat, is a bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils. It is caused by a group of bacteria called Group A Streptococcus (GAS), which is highly contagious and can easily spread from person to person through respiratory droplets.

If left untreated, strep throat can lead to further health complications like rheumatic fever and inflammation. 

In severe conditions, it can lead to internal or external rashes or even heart valve damage if an individual catches rheumatic fever due to strep throat. Strep throat is much more common in children than adults but may affect people of all ages. However, strep throat is not life-threatening but can become very painful and irritated if not treated timely. 


Strep throat accounts for 20% of the cases of a sore throat. According to Agha Khan University, strep throat cases are more commonly found in school-going children. Timely treatment is required to reverse strep throat or it can lead to rheumatic fever

Signs and Symptoms of Strep Throat

 A strep throat overlaps with a sore infected throat a lot, so the right diagnosis at the start of a throat infection might be more tricky. However, some of the common signs and symptoms to look for are; 

  • A painful threat that comes and goes 
  • Swollen throat with small white lines or patches of pus
  • Tiny inflamed spots at the back end of the throat 
  • Swollen tender lymph in the throat region 
  • Constant headache with a painful throat 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • More apparent rashes 
  • Consistent body aches 

A routine sore throat will have some of the above symptoms, however it's best to look out for the physical appearance of white spots and rash to identify a strep throat. Since strep throat is more commonly found in children, it's best to physically look for symptoms whenever your child complains of a painful throat. 

Types of Strep Throat

Causes of Strep Throat

The main cause for an infected strep throat is streptococcus pyogenes, a contagious bacteria commonly referred to as group A streptococcus. Group A strep bacteria will immediately spread through contact, coughing, sneezing, or even simply talking in close vicinity to someone infected can cause the spread of bacteria. In most cases touching unsanitized belongings of the affected person can also become a cause of the bacterial spread. Any form of exposure or contact with any droplets from sneezing and coughing is one of the major reasons for the spread of strep throat. 


Risk Factors of Strep Throat

If left untreated, strep throat can lead to severe complications, including:

  • Rheumatic fever is a rare but severe condition that can cause damage to the heart, joints, and other organs.
  • Kidney inflammation (post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis) can cause swelling, high blood pressure, and kidney damage.



The best way to prevent strep throat is to practice good hygiene. This includes:

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and water
  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Avoiding close contact with people who have strep throat
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with the bacteria

In addition, people who have strep throat should stay home from work, school, or other activities until they have been on antibiotics for at least 24 hours and are no longer contagious.



To diagnose strep throat, a healthcare provider may perform a rapid antigen test or a throat culture. In the rapid antigen test, a swab is taken from the back of the throat, and the results are available within minutes. If the rapid test is negative but the symptoms suggest strep throat, a throat culture may be performed. In a throat culture, a swab is taken from the back of the throat and sent to a laboratory for testing. Results usually take 1-2 days.

Treatment of Strep Throat | When to Consult a Doctor

Strep throat is usually treated with antibiotics. The most commonly prescribed antibiotics are penicillin and amoxicillin. These antibiotics are effective against the bacteria that cause strep throat and can help reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. It is important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by the healthcare provider to ensure that the infection is completely eradicated.

In addition to antibiotics, there are other treatments that can help relieve the symptoms of strep throat, including:

  • Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can help reduce pain and fever.
  • Gargling with warm salt water can help soothe a sore throat.
  • Drinking plenty of fluids can help keep the throat hydrated and reduce discomfort.

If you are having a raspy voice with an irritated throat, then you must consult a general practitioner immediately to get timely antibiotic treatment.