Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Myths about strep throat

Here are some common misconceptions about strep that I have seen recently.

1. If you have a sore throat only when you are singing in choir you don't have strep throat.
2. If you have a stuffy nose, cough, sore throat that's worse when you lay down and don't have a fever you don't have strep throat.
3. If you have had a sore throat for 3 weeks you don't have strep throat.
4. If you have a white spot in your throat it doesn't necessarily mean you have strep throat.
5. If your child tests positive for strep you don't automatically need to treat everyone in the house.

If you have sudden onset of fever, headache, sore throat (constant, not comes and goes) and do not have a cough or stuffy nose then it is likely you have strep throat. You need a throat culture.

Most places do a rapid strep test which will tell us right away if you are positive for strep. The problem with rapid strep tests is they are not always accurate. We always send a final culture to the lab and this takes 2 days. Your provider may choose to treat you with antibiotics even if the rapid strep test is negative.

Not all sore throats need antibiotics. Most sore throat are caused by a viral infection and antibiotics will not help. If this is the case, you need rest, fluids, tylenol or ibuprofen as needed for pain or fever.
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