How is strep throat diagnosed and treated?Ear, Nose & Throat
I've got a bad sore throat where it hurts every time I swallow. My ears also hurt. This has persisted for quite some time. I've read that a Strep Throat can cause these symptoms. I would like to find out more about how it is diagnosed and treated. Thank you!
Sore throat is a common symptom and majority of sore throats are self-limiting and requires no or little medications. As the nerve supply of the throat and ear region comes from the same origin, pain in the throat can be "referred" or perceived to occur in the ear too. The common causes are as follows:
1. Viral pharyngitis
- This is often due to the common cold/flu and is due to a viral infection. Common symptoms include fever, sore throat, coloured mucous from the nose or phlegm, blocked nose and postnasal drip. The treatment of viral pharyngitis involves plenty of rest, sleep and good hydration. Over the counter cold and flu medications can be used to keep your symptoms under control if necessary. Antibiotics are not required in a viral pharyngitis.
2. Bacterial pharyngitis and tonsillitis
- This is often called the "Strep Throat" as one of the most common bacteria involved is a group A streptococcus bacteria. Common symptoms include high fever, very painful sore throat, with redness or white patches at the back of your throat, difficulty swallowing and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. If the tonsils are primarily infected, the condition is called acute tonsillitis. If the back of the throat is primarily affected, it is called acute bacterial pharyngitis. A throat swab taken from the throat can be performed for rapid antigen test (which allows detection of the bacteria within minutes) or a throat culture (where the cotton swab stick is sent to the lab to grow the bacteria) can be performed. Treatment of bacterial pharyngitis involves a course of oral antibiotics, gargle, lozenges, pain reliever and plenty of rest and hydration. Bacterial pharyngitis is far less common than viral pharyngitis (which accounts for over 90% of pharyngitis).
3. Postnasal drip
- This refers to mucous dripping from the back of the nose down your throat, causing a sore and scratchy feeling in the throat. Common causes of postnasal drip include sinusitis (infection of the sinuses), Rhinitis (Sensitive nose) and the common cold
4. Laryngopharyngeal reflux
- In this condition, the patient experiences sore throat, feeling of something stuck in the throat (globus sensation), itchy throat and frequent throat clearing due to inflammation of the voicebox region from acid reflux from the stomach. Treatment includes taking acid suppressant medications and lifestyle modifications.
If you are getting frequent severe sore throats, you should visit and ENT Specialist for an assessment. Hope this helps and all the best!
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