By Sammy Shahatto, Pharmacist

Streptococcus (strep) is a bacterial infection that inflames your throat and tonsils. It can be contracted from airborne droplets via coughing, sneezing, or even just breathing. Symptoms usually appear in two to five days following contraction of the infection.  

Strep accounts for only about 15% of sore throats. The most common symptom is a sudden and severe soreness in your throat. This can sometimes be accompanied by fever, swollen tonsils and/or lymph nodes, and flu-like symptoms (headache or stomach ache). You may find that the back of your throat is bright red and dotted with white or yellow spots.  

Seek medical attention for a sore throat if you have: 

  • Severe soreness  
  • Sore throat lasting longer than a week 
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing 
  • Joint pain 
  • Trouble opening your mouth 
  • Ear ache 
  • Fever higher than 38.3°C 
  • Swelling or a lump in your neck or face 
  • Blood in your saliva or phlegm 

Your doctor will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat the infection and suggest over-the-counter flu medication to help relieve any symptoms you may have.   

Untreated strep throat can lead to complications such as kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever (inflammation of the heart, brain, joints and skin). Strep throat is usually contagious for up to three weeks following infection (so it can still be spread even if you feel better).  

In most cases, strep throat is easily remedied but may require you to relax at home for a little while with a bowl of your favourite ice cream. And that’s not a terrible afternoon, is it? 

For more information about strep throat, contact your doctor or a Yurek pharmacist.