Q&A: How can we treat and prevent strep throat?
Our family keeps getting strep throat. What can we do to stop passing it around?
Strep throat is an infection caused by a bacteria called group A Streptococci. The most common symptoms of a strep infection include:
- sore throat
- stomach pain or cramping
- red and or white patches in the throat
- tender, swollen neck glands
- pain with swallowing
- loss of appetite or nausea
A run-of-the-mill sore throat that is caused by a virus (not strep bacteria) presents with other symptoms such as runny nose, cough, hoarseness, and red or runny eyes.
If you are diagnosed with a strep throat, your doctor will put you on antibiotics. Strep is very contagious—hence the reason you and your family have been passing it around!
Strep can be passed on through coughing, sneezing, shaking hands, or sharing glasses or utensils. Keep the following things in mind to decrease the risk of passing this bug around:
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing
- Wash your hands frequently
- Keep faucet handles and doorknobs clean by wiping with antibacterial cleaners
- Do not share glasses or utensils
- Do not share towels or pillows
- Do not share toothbrushes
- Wash all towels, bed linens, or dishes in hot, soapy water
- After seeing the doctor, take antibiotics as directed (make sure you finish the whole course of treatment—don’t stop when you are feeling better)
- Stay home from school or work for 24 hours once diagnosed for rest and to get the medication in your system (also, be sure to buy new toothbrushes for your family after the first 24 hours, to limit re-infection)
- Get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids