Categories: Health & Fitness

Strep throat: symptoms, complications, management

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Do you have a sore throat, your glands are swollen and you have trouble swallowing? You are probably suffering from angina. According to Health Insurance, nearly nine million adults and children are victims each year. To quickly neutralize the disease, it is necessary first of all to know whether it is viral angina or bacterial anginawhich often turns out to be strep throat.

Definition: what is strep throat?

angina is inflammation of the tonsils of infectious origin. As indicated above, viral angina (due to a virus) is distinguished from bacterial angina (due to a bacterium, most often streptococcus).

In the case of strep throat, the infection is therefore caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pyogenesbetter known as group A streptococcus. Concretely, this type of angina does not present any particular specificities: the tonsils swell and become painful.

Red or white strep throat?

Strep throat can be a red angina (called erythematous) or white angina (called erythemato-pultaceous). The doctor makes the difference at the time of the clinical examination according to the appearance of the tonsils and the presence – or not – of whitish deposits on the walls of the tonsils and at the back of the pharynx. In rare cases, red angina can also be accompanied by characteristic uvula edema.

Good to know: strep throat can occur throughout the year, but health authorities generally report a peak in cases between late winter and early spring. However, they remain less frequent than viral angina, which represents 60 to 75% of cases. angina in children and 75 to 90% of angina in adults.

What symptoms should alert?

Symptoms of bacterial angina often come on suddenly. Among the main symptoms:

  • A severe sore throat ;
  • a difficulty swallowing and swallowing solid foods ;
  • of the swollen and tender lymph nodes ;
  • of the swollen and red tonsils (in case of red angina);
  • A whitish to yellowish deposit on the tonsils (in case of white angina);
  • and sometimes, fever (above 38°C).

In children, in particular, angina associated with a scarlet fever risk of causing skin rashes, abdominal pain, vomiting, etc.

Moreover, coughing, runny nose, and sneezing are not associated with strep throat, but rather with a viral infection.

Either way, the diagnosis of strep throat must be confirmed — or ruled out — by the analysis of a sample taken from the tonsils!

Transmission: how do you catch such angina? How contagious is it?

Strep throat is contagious and usually spreads through direct contact with an infected person (when coughing, sneezing, kissing, etc.) or through indirect contact with contaminated objects by infectious secretions (door handles, laptops, toys, various utensils, etc.). In other words, this type of angina is transmitted in the same way as the common cold, but remains slightly less contagious.

How long does it last?

Symptoms of strep throat usually manifest 24 to 72 hours after contamination and last on average about ten days.

How to limit the transmission of streptococci?

To limit the risk of transmission of group A streptococci, it is advisable to adopt the following barrier gestures:

  • wash your hands regularly ;
  • wear a surgical mask in contact with other people and avoid kissing or hugging;
  • sneeze and cough into the crease of your elbow (to avoid spreading sputter everywhere);
  • ventilate your room (and more generally its interior) at least 10 minutes, morning and evening;
  • and​​​​​ clean his nose two to three times a day;

In addition, we avoid going to collective places, at the risk of contaminating other people, especially immunocompromised people, who are more susceptible to complications.

Diagnosis: how do you know if you have strep throat?

See your doctor if you have difficulty swallowing, pain, and swollen and tender glands. However, the diagnosis of strep throat cannot be posed on clinical examination : it requires a sample from the tonsils, as part of a rapid diagnostic orientation test (TROD).

Purpose of this test? Determine if it’s viral or bacterial — and if so, if it’s strep throat. This step is essential because the treatment of these two diseases is not the same and the unnecessary prescription of antibiotics has significant effects in terms of public health (antibiotic resistance).

Complications: is this type of angina dangerous?

Complications of strep throat are rare, but should not be taken lightly. If the infection is not taken care of and degenerates, it can be the cause:

  • local infections in the throat, such as pharyngeal abscess ;
  • a ear infection (otitis) or sinusitis ;
  • a inflammation of the kidneys (acute glomerulonephritis), which can progress to kidney failure in adults;
  • A acute articular rhumatism (like polyarthritis);
  • even heart damage (endocarditis).

Good to know: these complications can occur one to six weeks after the appearance of the first symptoms of angina (incubation period). This is why you must consult your doctor at the slightest signsuch as earache, joint pain, recurrent nosebleeds, severe abdominal pain and a sudden rise in fever.

Can strep throat heal on its own?

Yes, angina usually heal spontaneously after a few days, whether of viral or bacterial origin. But the symptoms are extremely unpleasant and can be relieved with specific treatments!

How to treat strep throat?

The management of strep throat differs from that of viral throat. Indeed, antibiotics are completely useless against a virus. On the other hand, they are essential to fight against bacteria. Their use must therefore be targeted and limited.


The most commonly prescribed antibiotic is amoxicillin, usually for five to ten days. It comes in the form of tablets to be taken by mouth and is only available on medical prescription. In case of allergy to antibiotics, we can bet on cephalosporin.

Please note: even if you notice an improvement in your symptoms, complete your treatment.


Your doctor can prescribe pain medication (paracetamol, better tolerated than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve pain caused by inflammation of the tonsils and pharynx.

Generally, avoid resorting to self-medicationwhich risks masking possible symptoms and encouraging relapses or complications.

A tonsillectomy (removal of the tonsils)

As a last resort, and if strep throat is frequent, you may be offered tonsil removal. This intervention can also be considered in cases of recurrent tonsillar abscess, or when the tonsils are particularly large and hinder the passage of air when lying down. Performed under general anesthesia, it is far from trivial.

What natural treatments to relieve the symptoms of this angina?

Several simple gestures and natural treatments can help relieve symptoms for a while:

  • to drink a lot of water and use an air humidifier in his room ;
  • drink hot drinks : herbal teas of lemon juice with honey, herbal teas of anti-inflammatory and astringent plants (such as thyme, bramble, marshmallow, etc.);
  • suck ice cubes Or throat lozenges ;
  • gargling salt water (to be avoided in children who risk drinking them);
  • turn toaromatherapy : certain essential oils are known for their anti-infective and immunostimulating properties (Tea tree or Ravintsara essential oil, for example).

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