While sore throat is an ailment that clears on itself within a few days, strep throat often requires medical treatment with antibiotics. Physicians claim that in the absence of an appropriate medical treatment, strep throat can rapidly aggravate and lead to complications such as rheumatic fever, cardiovascular diseases or kidney affections. Before penicillin was discovered, infection with streptococcus bacteria could even cause life-threatening diseases. However, nowadays strep throat can be easily overcome with the means of specific antibiotic treatments.
It is very important to understand that sore throat and strep throat are not the same thing. Sore throat is caused by infection with viral agents and its generated symptoms are mild. By contrast, strep throat is caused by infection with group A streptococcus bacteria and its generated symptoms are usually intense. Strep throat produces symptoms such as inflammation and swelling of the throat, cough, nausea, fatigue, high fever, enlargement of the tonsils and lymph nodes. While the symptoms of sore throat usually ameliorate within a few days in the absence of medical treatment, the symptoms of strep throat intensify gradually and can persist for more than a week. In many cases, untreated strep throat can lead to tonsillitis, otitis and scarlet fever. On the premises of a weak immune system, the infection can even become systemic, affecting the body on multiple levels.
Strep throat is very contagious and it can be easily acquired in the flu seasons. Unlike in the case of sore throat, the symptoms of strep throat have a rapid onset and they are considerably more intense.
Sometimes, clinical examinations alone can distinguish between sore throat and strep throat. By measuring patients’ body temperature and by examining the aspect of the tonsils, doctors are usually able to tell whether the infection is caused by viruses or bacteria. However, strep throat can be correctly diagnosed only with the means of laboratory tests. In order to determine the nature of the infection, doctors take a sample of mucus for analysis. If the illness is indeed caused by group A streptococcus bacteria, doctors usually recommend an appropriate medical treatment with antibiotics.
Considering the fact that antibiotics can generate various side effects, physicians only prescribe these drugs when the illness is serious. If the throat inflammation doesn’t appear to be caused by infection with streptococcus bacteria, doctors usually recommend letting the illness heal naturally. If the symptoms of strep throat persist for more than a few days and appear to intensify, physicians may prescribe a treatment with penicillin or amoxicillin. These antibiotics have been successfully used to cure strep throat for decades and they are still effective in overcoming the illness in present.
The treatment with antibiotics needs to be followed for more than 10 days in order to ensure a complete recovery. It is very important to respect the doctor’s indications and to correctly follow the prescribed medical treatment. If the treatment with antibiotics is prematurely interrupted, the infection is very likely to reoccur.