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How Does Strep Throat Spread & How Can I Prevent It?

Strep throat is a contagious virus that affects your throat and tonsils, common in adults and children alike. It can be spread quickly through a number of ways and can take between two and five days for symptoms to appear.

How is Strep Throat Spread?

The virus begins in the nose and throat and may not present symptoms at first. When the infected person sneezes or coughs, minuscule droplets are spread through the air, eventually landing in the noses or throats of those surrounding them. The droplets may also land on utensils, cups, or other objects in the area. If someone without the virus drinks from a cup that has been contaminated by droplets or touches an object before touching their nose or mouth, they may find themselves sick in the next several days.

How Can I Tell If I Have Strep Throat?

Common symptoms, especially in the first several days, include sneezing, coughing, fever and aching. After the virus fully sets in, symptoms will increase, including:

  •         Sore throat
  •         Fever
  •         Irritated tonsils, potentially with white patches
  •         Painful swallowing
  •         Swelling lymph nodes
  •         Tiny, red spots throughout the mouth
  •         Nausea

Children and adults, particularly those working in childcare, are the most at risk for contracting strep throat, though anyone can catch it. People who have children in school or spend a lot of time with children have a higher probability of catching strep throat. One out of every ten adult cases of a sore throat results in a case of strep throat.

How Can I Treat My Strep Throat?

You can treat your strep throat by visiting a doctor, who will run a swab test on your throat and tonsils to capture material. They will then be able to perform one of two tests to diagnose whether or not you have strep throat or another form of sore throat. A rapid strep test will require the doctor to run tests on swabs taken from your throat. If the test provides a negative result but your doctor believes you may have strep throat, a culture will be taken and performed. While a rapid test provides nearly instantaneous results, a throat culture takes more time but provides more extensive results, catching infections that may not be detected by the rapid test. Throat cultures are more commonly taken in children and teenagers, who are more prone to developing rheumatoid fever if strep throat is left untreated. Strep throat can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your doctor after the test results return.
If you are feeling ill and believe you may be suffering from strep throat, please visit your local AFC Urgent Care Center for diagnosis and treatment.