All you ever wanted to know about Strep Throat

by Ellen Ambrose in General / 01.05.09

When my daughter woke up with a terrible sore throat with no other symptoms, I was very suspicious. When I looked into her throat and saw bright red everywhere, we went to the doctor. The doctor said without a doubt that it was strep because one of the tell tale characteristics is a bright red uvula. What is strep throat? It is an infection of the throat caused by Group A streptococci.

Here are the other symptoms of strep throat:

  • red throat with white puss patches
  • tonsils red and enlarged
  • specks of puss on the tonsils
  • red and white patches in the throat
  • difficulty swallowing
  • swollen tender glands (lymph nodes) in the neck
  • general discomfort, feeling ill
  • fever
  • stomach pain
  • rash
  • headache
  • loss of appetite

After you read these symptoms, you probably feel like I did. Lots of different symptoms and still confusing on whether or not you have strep. In my daughter’s case, she had fever, very painful throat/neck and general ill feeling and none of the other symptoms. The truth is that an experienced physician will be able to look at a throat and make an educated guess; however the only true detection comes from a strep test.

There are two different kinds of strep tests: the rapid test (cotton throat swab), results in 15 minutes or less with 90% accuracy, and a throat culture done at the lab that takes 2 days with 100% accuracy. Typically, if the rapid test comes back negative, the doctor will send the sample to the lab just to make sure. If either strep test comes back positive, the treatment is a 10-14 day course of antibiotics.

The good news is that children begin to feel better 24 hours after starting the antibiotics. After two or three days, the symptoms will disappear completely. If the doctor visually diagnoses strep throat and you have other children in your home, make sure they do a rapid strep test to confirm. This way, if another child comes down with the same symptoms, you can ask your doctor to call in a prescription for antibiotics.

The next thing that comes to mind is the incubation period and contagious period. Who will get strep next? The incubation period for strep throat is 2 to 5 days. Meaning, you will experience symptoms 2 to 5 days after you have been exposed. Strep is very contagious and is spread through person to person contact which can be droplets from sneezes, coughs, eating or drinking after someone, kissing, touching etc. Further, strep throat is contagious for two days after you begin antibiotics. If you do not take antibiotics, strep throat is contagious for 14 to 21 days.

I ended up being on the receiving end of the contagious part of strep throat. I came down with it about 3 days after my daughter. The adult version of strep throat was almost unbelievable in terms of the neck pain from swollen lymph nodes, raw throat, massive headaches, fatigue and flu-like symptoms. I only hope that my daughter had the lite version of this infection and did not experience half of what I did. Both of us experienced some relief from taking the recommended dose of ibuprofen. The other thing that I will note is that adults do not get relief 24 hours after starting the antibiotics. I started feeling a little better after taking the meds for 3 days.

If you have strep throat, I wish you a speedy recovery. Also, make note that I am not a physician, just a mom who is still recovering from strep throat as I write this post.

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3 Comments

  1. Ellen, January 5, 2009:

    uggghhh.. still having a sore throat on Day 4 of antibiotics but more mentally clear and more energy at this point.

  2. Shawn, January 11, 2009:

    I’m glad I found your info!! I went to WebMD and did a search and the one thing that kept popping up was Scarlet Fever!!

    My throat is slighty tender when I swallow, but my uvula is fire red!! Guess I’ll be going to the Dr tomorrow!!!

    Thanks!!

  3. Tara Hall, March 14, 2009:

    I’m wondering where to look….my daughter has had issues now for 12 weeks (throat closed off for 10 days, they only treated her with steroids..which cut down her immune response)…she’s suffered the past 3 months with post strep symptoms…(migratory myalgia, weakness etc.)..we’ve been to so many specialists who just say it’ll take time…now she’s had strep for 2 weeks, the amoxicillin did not get rid of it so they put her on omnicef…we’re on our last dose (10 days) and her throat hurts worse now than ever..I feel this too has failed…I’m not sure if I should take her to ER for fear that she’s had strep this long and it could lead to rheumatic…have you read of strep resistant strains??

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