Streptococcal pharyngitis, or streptococcal nasopharyngitis, is a bacterial infection in the throat. An estimated 30 million people become infected each year. Children and people with limited immunity have a higher risk of infection than healthy adults, but you can still become infected at any age. The only way to find out if you have this infection is to see a doctor and undergo medical tests. However, there are symptoms that tell you if you have a streptococcal nasopharyngeal infection even before visiting a doctor.
Symptoms in the throat and mouth
Think about how bad your sore is. Severe sore throat is usually the first sign of a streptococcal infection. However, it is possible that you are infected even if your throat hurts only moderately. However, if you only have a very mild sore throat, it is probably not a streptococcal infection.
The pain should not worsen when speaking or swallowing.
Pain that can be alleviated or partially alleviated by cold fluids and food can be caused by this infection, but it is usually not easy to get rid of streptococcal pain without taking prescription drugs.
Try to swallow. If your throat hurts only moderately, but your pain hurts very badly, you probably have a streptococcal infection. Swallowing pain, which makes swallowing very difficult, is a common symptom in patients with nasopharyngeal infections.
Find out if it smells like your mouth. Smelly breath is not a symptom that occurs in all patients, but streptococcal infection can often cause it. This is a consequence of the multiplication of bacteria.
This odor is strong but not easy to describe. Some people claim that it is a metallic smell reminiscent of a hospital, while others compare it to rotten meat. Regardless of the nature of the odor, the breath of a streptococcal infection smells much stronger than a normal smelly breath.
Due to the subjective nature of this bad breath, this is not a way to diagnose a streptococcal infection, but rather a common symptom of this infection.
Check the lymph nodes in your neck. Lymph nodes capture and destroy bacteria. If you have a streptococcal infection, you will have swollen nodes sensitive to touch.
Lymph nodes are found in various places on the body, but most of them are those that are closest to the source of the infection. In case of a streptococcal infection, you will have swollen nodules on your neck and in its immediate vicinity.
Use your fingertips to gently rub the area in front of your ear and under your ear. Move your fingers in a circular motion towards the ear.
Also check the area around the neck and under the chin. Most often in this type of infection, the lymph nodes under the chin swell, about halfway between the chin and ears. Move your fingers towards the ears and also feel the side of the neck under the ears.
Finally, check the nodules around both collarbones.
If you feel swelling or hard lumps in any of these places, you probably have swollen nodes due to a streptococcal infection.
Check your language. Patients with streptococcal infection have a tongue dotted with small red dots, especially on the back. Most people compare these dots to the surface of strawberries.
The dots can be bright red or dark red. They usually look inflamed.
Check your neck. Many people who suffer from streptococcal infection have petechiae, which are red dots on the soft or hard palate (at the top of the mouth near the neck).
Check your almonds (if you still have them). Streptococcal infection usually also manifests as tonsillitis. The almonds are brightly colored and also very swollen. You may also notice light spots. These white spots can be directly on the tonsils or in the back of the neck. Sometimes they may not be bright white but yellow.
Instead of white spots, you can sometimes have white pus on the almonds. It is also a symptom of streptococcal nasopharyngeal infection.
Other common symptoms
Find out if you have come in contact with someone who has had a streptococcal infection. This infection is contagious and can be transmitted through direct contact with the bacteria that cause it. It is unlikely that you would become infected other than by direct contact with an infected person.
It is very difficult to find out if anyone has streptococcus. If you were not in complete isolation, you could probably come in contact with someone who had the infection.
Some people may pass the streptococcal infection to other people without experiencing any symptoms themselves.
Think about how quickly your illness manifested itself. The sore throat associated with this infection usually develops without warning and very quickly. If your neck started to hurt gradually within a few days, it is probably not a streptococcal infection.
Nevertheless, even in this case, streptococcus cannot be ruled out.
Measure your temperature. Streptococcal infection is usually accompanied by a fever higher than 38.3 degrees Celsius. You may have a lower temperature, but in this case, a viral infection is usually to blame.
Be aware that you suffer from headaches. Headaches are another common symptom of streptococcal infection. They can be very mild, but also unbearably strong.
Notice the changes in digestion. If you do not have an appetite or suffer from nausea, you may consider this another symptom of a streptococcal infection. In the worst case, streptococcus can also cause vomiting and stomach cramps.
Think about whether you are tired. As with any infection, it is possible that you will suffer from severe fatigue. You will probably have difficulty getting up and you will be exhausted during the day.
Find out if you have a rash. A severe streptococcal infection can also cause a rash called burns. This red rash looks similar to sandpaper.
Sleep usually occurs 12-48 hours after the onset of the first symptoms of a streptococcal infection.
The rash usually begins to appear on the neck and gradually spreads to the chest. It can also spread to the abdomen and groin. In rare cases, sleep also occurs on the back, arms, legs and face.
When streptococcal infection is treated with antibiotics, sleep usually disappears quickly. If you experience such a rash, you should see a doctor as soon as possible, whether or not you suffer from other symptoms of streptococcal infection.
Note the missing symptoms. Although streptococcal infection has many common symptoms with the common cold, there are several common cold symptoms that are absent in the case of streptococcal. The absence of these symptoms is a clear sign of streptococcal infection.
Streptococcal infection usually lacks airway symptoms. It means you won’t have a cough, a runny nose, a stuffy nose, or red and itchy eyes.
In addition, streptococcal infection can cause nausea but does not cause diarrhea.
Evaluate your medical history and risk factors
Evaluate your medical history. Some people are more prone to contracting a streptococcal infection. If you have had this infection in the past, there is a higher risk that you will become infected again.
Assess if you are at an age where there is a higher risk of streptococcal infection. About 20-35% of all infections occur in children. Only 5-10% of all streptococcal infections occur in healthy adults.
Elderly patients and people with other illnesses (such as the flu) are more prone to opportunistic infections.
Find out if your life situation increases the risk of streptococcal infection. If someone in your family has suffered from this disease in the last two weeks, you have an increased risk of infection. If you live or share other areas with people who have recently become infected with this bacterium, your risk of infection is higher. This applies to roommates, colleagues at work, children in kindergarten, or soldiers in barracks, for example.
Children have the highest risk of streptococcal infection, but toddlers under the age of two are usually not infected. However, when they become infected, they may not have the same symptoms as older children and adults. They may suffer from fever, runny nose or cough and also loss of appetite. Ask your doctor if it is possible for your child to become infected with streptococcus, especially if they come into contact with someone who has had the infection and has a fever or other symptoms.
Assess if you have a higher risk of infection due to risk factors. People who have reduced immunity and limited ability to fight infections have a higher risk of contracting streptococcal infection. Also, if you suffer from another illness, your risk is higher.
Your immune system may weaken due to ordinary fatigue. Conditions of extreme exhaustion, or intense exercise (for example, in people who run marathons), are also a great burden on the body. Because your body needs to recover and regenerate, your ability to fight infections is reduced. Simply put, an exhausted body is much more prone to streptococcal infection.
Smoking can damage the mucus in the mouth and throat and allow bacteria to easily enter the body.
Oral sex can also allow a bacterial infection because it exposes your mouth to bacteria.
Diabetes also reduces the body’s ability to fight infection.
See a doctor
You should know when to see a doctor. You do not have to see a doctor every time you get a sore throat, but if you have symptoms of a streptococcal infection, you should book an examination as soon as possible. If you have a sore throat and swollen nodules, a rash, poor swallowing, high fever, or a temperature that lasts longer than 48 hours, see a doctor.
If you have a sore throat for more than 48 hours, you should also see a doctor.
Describe your symptoms to the doctor. Tell your doctor all your symptoms and suspect a streptococcal infection. Your doctor will probably check for some of the main symptoms of this infection.
Your doctor will probably measure your temperature in the doctor’s office.
You can also expect your doctor to look into your throat and evaluate whether you have swollen tonsils, a red rash on your tongue, or white or yellow spots on your neck and tonsils.
You will need to complete a report on your symptoms with your doctor. This is basically an official list of your symptoms. In adults, a standardized protocol is used to determine if you have a type A streptococcal infection. It is simply a list of criteria that your doctor will go through to assess whether (and how) you should be treated for a streptococcal infection.
Your doctor will make plus or minus points for symptoms such as tonsil milky spots (+1), swollen lymph nodes (+1), recent fever (+1), patient’s risk age (less than 15 years) (+0) , patient older than 45 years (-1) and cough (-1).
If you have 3-4 points, there is a positive predictive value of about 80% that you suffer from type A streptococcal infection. In principle, you have a positive finding of streptococcal bacteria. This infection should be treated with antibiotics and your doctor will also recommend a suitable regimen.
Ask your doctor for a quick test for streptococcus. Unfortunately, the standard criteria fail to reliably diagnose infections that need to be treated with antibiotics in children. A quick aunt can be performed directly in the doctor’s office and it only takes a few minutes for the results to be found.
The doctor will take a sample of the mucus from your throat with a cotton swab so that he can test it for the presence of bacteria. The sample is then tested directly in the laboratory and you should know the results within 5-10 minutes.
Ask your doctor for a throat culture test. If the results of the rapid test are negative but you still have symptoms of a streptococcal throat infection, your doctor may perform another test called a throat culture. This test will try to colonize the bacteria from your throat in the lab. As the bacteria obtained from your throat grow and multiply, it will be easier to detect more Streptococcus A bacteria. Your doctor will probably use a combination of standard criteria, a quick test, and a throat culture to diagnose, depending on your requirements.
A quick test is usually enough for a doctor to find out if you have a streptococcal infection or not, but there have also been cases of false negative results. The throat culture test, on the other hand, is much more accurate.
If the rapid test is positive, it is not necessary to perform a throat culture test, as the rapid test directly detects bacterial antigens and a positive result is only obtained if the basic bacterial count is exceeded. In the case of a positive rapid test, antibiotic treatment should be initiated immediately.
The doctor will take mucus from your throat using a cotton swab. He then sends the sample to the laboratory, where it is transferred to a petri dish with agar. The plate is incubated for 18-48 hours (depending on the methodology of the laboratory). If you have a streptococcal infection, beta streptococcal group A bacteria will start to multiply in the bowl.
Find out more examination options. In the case of a negative rapid test, some physicians prefer a nucleic acid amplification test instead of a neck culture. This test is very accurate and will give you results within a few hours, instead of the culture test, which will give you results up to 1-2 days after incubation.
Start taking antibiotics that your doctor prescribes. Streptococcal infection is of bacterial origin and should therefore be treated with antibiotics. If you are allergic to antibiotics (such as penicillin), you must tell your doctor so that he or she can provide you with suitable alternatives.
Antibiotics are usually taken for 10 days (depending on the specific type of antibiotics you will be taking). You have to take the medication to the end, even if you feel better while taking it.
Penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalosporins and azithromycin are the most commonly prescribed antibiotics for the treatment of infection. Penicillin is the most commonly used and can effectively treat streptococcal throat infections. However, some people may be allergic to it. If you know you are allergic to penicillin, you should tell your doctor. Amoxicillin is another drug that is prescribed to treat streptococcal throat infection. Its effects are similar to those of penicillin and it is better able to withstand stomach acids and is more easily absorbed by the body. In addition, it also has a wider spectrum of utility than penicillin.
Azithromycin, erythromycin and cephalosporins are antibiotics that are prescribed if a person is allergic to penicillin. However, erythromycin has the highest rate of gastrointestinal side effects in patients.
Rest and be comfortable until the antibiotics work out. Usually you should rest as long as you take antibiotics. Give your body a chance to recover.
You should sleep as much as possible, drink herbal teas and plenty of fluids to relieve sore throat.
In addition, it is sometimes good to drink cold drinks and eat ice cream and popsicles.
See a doctor for a check-up if necessary. You should feel better in 2-3 days, but if your condition does not improve and you still have a fever, call your doctor. If you have an allergic reaction to antibiotics, call your doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include a rash, hives, or swelling.