It’s not just in winter: Strep throat season has arrived

Immediate care centers seeing high number of strep throat cases

Strep throat season, which happens during late winter and early spring, is hitting the Louisville area. A sore throat often is considered to be a cold symptom, but allergies, dry air and even acid reflux could cause a sore throat. How do you know when it’s something that will pass versus time to see a doctor?

Strep throat usually is much more intense than a sore throat that accompanies most viruses. It’s caused by bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A streptococcus.

Strep throat is highly contagious. It tends to thrive where people are in close contact. You can get it through sharing food or drink, breathing air after someone with strep coughs or sneezes, or touching a surface such as door knob or elevator button and then touching your nose, mouth or eyes.

You have a sore throat. Is it strep throat?

With strep throat, you usually do not have cold symptoms, such as a runny nose or a cough. A fever and swollen lymph nodes along with a sore throat that lasts longer than 48 hours may be a telltale sign of strep throat. Other signs to look for include:

  • Throat pain that usually comes on quickly
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Red, swollen tonsils that may or may not have white patches or streaks of pus
  • Small red spots in the back of the mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children
  • Body aches

It can be possible for you or a loved one to have these symptoms and not have strep throat. However, you need to be tested to find out. Once diagnosed, your provider can give a prescription for antibiotics to help eliminate the bacteria.

Can I prevent strep throat?

You can try to limit your exposure to strep bacteria by:

  • Proper hand washing. Washing your hands is the best way to limit your exposure to all kinds of germs, including strep and viruses. Here are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations for hand washing:
    • Before, during and after preparing food.
    • Before eating food.
    • Before and after caring for someone who is sick.
    • Before and after treating a cut or wound.
    • After using the toilet.
    • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
    • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
    • After touching an animal, animal food or treats, or animal waste.
    • After touching garbage.
  • Covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze. Use a tissue or the crook of your arm to cover a sneeze or cough, not your hands.
  • Not sharing personal items. Sharing food and drinks by using the same utensils or glasses means you’re sharing the same germs. Make sure that you’re properly cleaning your dishes and glasses by washing them with hot, soapy water or in the dishwasher.

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