Lions’ EMS: Beware of strep throat

By Steven King
Columnist

As we head into the colder months, it is not uncommon to start dealing with some pretty nasty illnesses. The common cold and the flu are certainly constant threats, but it’s important not to forget about the other bugs out there — particularly the ones that are responsible for strep throat.

Visit your doctor if strep throat symptoms persist. (AP Photo)
Visit your doctor if strep throat symptoms persist. (AP Photo)

Even a normal sore throat is quite painful, but having strep throat takes the pain to a new level. Luckily, there are ways to prevent yourself from getting this infection as well as tips to make your life a bit easier if you happen to catch it.

First, it’s always important to understand what this illness is. Strep throat is an infection caused by the streptococcal bacteria, which tends to hide on the throat and skin. It usually spreads through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This bacteria easily spreads in places where people are in close contact, such as college dorms. It can take two to five days for symptoms to appear after becoming infected and take another three to seven days to clear out of your system.

Symptoms of strep throat can be quite debilitating. A person who has strep throat will develop a severe sore throat and will have a hard time swallowing. Aside from these symptoms, a person will most likely develop a high fever and white or yellow spots on their throat. You should see your doctor if these symptoms develop and the sore throat does not feel better by the second day. It’s also common to experience a headache and swollen tonsils when this bacteria is in your system. Fatigue is another common symptom when dealing with strep. Occasionally, one can also develop stomach pains when sick.

Doctors are able to perform very quick tests to see if you have strep throat. If you are diagnosed with strep, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan, usually one that includes antibiotics. It is suggested that you increase your vitamin C intake by eating foods such as oranges or cherries. You can also gargle salt water, but make sure you only use a quarter of a teaspoon of salt. Salt contains anti-bacterial properties that can help fight the bacteria. While you are sick, do your best to avoid dairy products and alcohol, since these can make the infection worse. Along with these steps, make sure to get a lot rest and drink plenty of water. 

So, be cautious as we go through the winter months. To avoid strep and other illnesses, practice good hygiene and try your best to avoid sick individuals. By doing this, you can take some pretty strong steps toward keeping yourself healthy.