When Should Strep Throat Be Treated?

It can be tough to know whether your sore throat is simply a sore throat or if it’s something more, like strep throat.

Strep throat is common during these winter months, and if you’re at all worried that you may have it, it’s best to get a rapid strep test at our AFC center.

Our AFC Urgent Care Ooltewah team provides further info about strep testing and the importance of treating strep early on below, so keep reading!

What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus. Strep throat is highly contagious, and it spreads through close contact and breathing in airborne droplets that contain strep bacteria.

Although a sore throat is a common symptom for many types of illnesses,

Common Strep Throat Symptoms

  • A sudden fever, especially if it’s 101˚F or higher
  • A sore, red throat with white patches
  • A headache
  • Chills
  • A loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Trouble swallowing

How Quickly Should Strep Throat Be Treated?

Medical experts suggest that you should see a healthcare provider within 48 hours after developing strep throat symptoms.

When you visit your doctor, you will likely be required to take a strep test so your doctor can confirm a diagnosis. If you test positive for the infection, your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic, and you should see symptoms resolve in a couple of days. It’s important to continue taking the antibiotic until the medicine is finished, which will ensure that complications from untreated strep throat, such as the ones we’ve listed below, don’t occur.

Complications Caused By Untreated Strep Throat

  • Rheumatic fever—an autoimmune disease that may develop after a strep throat infection. It’s especially common among children ages 5–15, although older teens and adults may develop the disease.
  • Otitis media—when strep throat bacteria move into the inner ear and cause an ear infection. Bacteria in the inner ear can cause severe pain, dizziness and nausea.
  • Meningitis—occurs when the fluid surrounding the membranes of the brain and spinal cord become infected. In rare cases, meningitis can be fatal.
  • Pneumonia—when the bacteria that cause strep throat move into the lungs.
  • Toxic shock syndrome—in rare cases, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream. If the bacteria release toxins in multiple organs while in the bloodstream, it causes toxic shock syndrome, which can result in catastrophic organ failure.

Need a rapid strep test? Our AFC center provides them with no appointment necessary, so don’t hesitate to stop by today!