Sore Throat or Strep? When to Go to the Doctor

If you have ever had a sore throat and wondered
if you need to go the doctor for it, then this video is for YOU. I’m going to teach you how to recognize the
symptoms of strep throat, when You need to be seen, and when it’s o.k. to stay home. Welcome to Family Med, your medical home for
practical and accurate information to help your family make healthy decisions. If you are new here, let me introduce myself. I’m Doctor Erik Richardson, my passion is
helping you cut through all the health information clutter on the internet and giving you the
knowledge you need to live a healthier life. So as I said in the intro, today we are going
to help you learn about strep throat, what it is, how to recognize it and when its important
that you go to the doctor. Strep throat is fairly common and chances
are that you or one of your kids have had it. But chances are even greater that you’ve gone
to the doctor thinking that you might have strep throat only to be sent home feeling
like you wasted your time because your doctor told you that it was a virus and there wasn’t
anything they could do about it. Hopefully after watching this video you will
be able to be a little more informed on when it’s important to go in and when you can try
treating it at home to see if it will go away on it’s own. So first of all, let’s establish a little
background on strep throat. What is it and why do we care about treating
it. Strep throat is an infection that is caused
a bacteria called Group A Strep. It’s a bacteria that lives in the nose and
throat and can easily spread to other people. It is usually spread by either breathing in
the bacteria after somebody has coughed or sneezed, or touching, eating or drinking from
something that had been exposed. So why do we care about treating it? Well first of all ,and most obvious is because
it hurts, you are miserable and treating it can help shorten the illness. We also already talked about it being contagious
so we try and treat it to help prevent the spreading it to others. But all of these are just bonus benefits. The biggest reason why you need to treat strep
is to prevent complications that can come about because of it. These are things such as tonsillar abscesses,
this is when you form a pocket of infection behind the tonsil that can make you pretty
sick. We treat it to prevent developing a more rare
condition affecting the kidneys called “post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis”. This is a condition that is caused by the
body’s inflammatory response to the bacteria that then causes damage to the kidneys. We also treat it to prevent something called
“rheumatic fever”. This is also a condition that is a inflammatory
response to the body fighting off the bacteria that can lead to among other things damage
to the heart and heart valves. These can cause some serious health problems
and are really important to try and prevent. The reason I’m starting with the discussion
of these complications is to help you understand the need to get strep properly treated and
not ignore it, if you have symptoms that are more consistent with strep. So at this point you may be more inclined
to just run to the doctor every time your throat hurts just in case. Well don’t hop in the car yet because there
are some common symptoms that I’m going to go over with you that will help you make a
better decision of when you should go in to be seen and when you can wait. So let’s talk about some of the symptoms that
would make it more likely to have strep throat. Strep will oftentimes present with symptoms
such as: A Sore throat that comes on fairly quickly,
Pain when swallowing, Fever,
Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus, Tiny, red spots
on the roof of the mouth, Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck. Other symptoms may include a headache, stomach
pain, nausea, or vomiting Someone with strep throat may also have a rash known as scarlet
fever. So those are the symptoms that you are more
likely to have if you have strep. You don’t need to have all of them for certain
but they are the most common ones to look for. Now what I’m going to go over now is key to
helping you distinguish when its more likely you have strep and when its more likely that
it is being caused by a virus. If you have a sore throat and you also have
symptom such as Cough, Congestion, Runny nose, hoarseness,
Conjunctivitis or what most call pink eye Then it is more likely to be caused by a virus
and there isn’t going to be much treatment that your doctor is going to be able to offer
that will get rid of it for you. If you have any of these symptoms then it
is almost certain that you are not going to have strep. So what are you supposed to do with this information? Well, quite simply, if you find your self
with a sore throat and you have a fever, white stuff on your throat and tender painful lymph
nodes on your neck and you don’t have a cough or congestion or other symptoms like that,
then you need to get to your doctor because chances are that you have strep. You are more likely to require treatment from
your doctor with an antibiotic to prevent the complications that we talked about before. It’s that simple. On the flip side if you have a bad sore throat
but you are coughing and congested then its almost certain a virus and you can treat it
like you would a normal cold. Most importantly you more than likely do not
need to go in and be seen right away. Now I’ve focused mostly on strep versus a
cold virus type symptoms because those are the most common. However there are other reasons that you would
want to be seen when it comes to a sore throat. These would be if you have a:
A sore throat that is severe or lasts longer than a week, Difficulty swallowing, Difficulty
breathing, Difficulty, opening your mouth, Joint pain associated with a sore throat,
Severe Earache, Rash, Fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C), Blood in your saliva or phlegm,
Frequently recurring sore throats, A lump in your neck, Hoarseness lasting more than
two weeks, Swelling in your neck or face. If you notice any of these then get into your
doctor and have him take a look at it. Now all these recommendations are broad recommendations
and may not apply to your specific case so make sure if you have doubts or questions
to talk to your own doctor and get their advice. But in the majority of times if you follow
these simple steps you can avoid unnecessary trips to the doctors office. Antibiotics are inappropriate for the majority
of sore throats however, when it comes to strep The quickest and most proven treatment
that helps you avoid complications is being treated by an antibiotic. So if you have symptoms that are more likely
strep then get in and get tested. It is possible that you can clear it on your
own but you are putting yourself at risk so its better that you do so under the care and
recommendations of a doctor. If it turns out that you don’t have strep
click right on this video to learn about some steps that you can do at home to treat your
sore throat. And click here to learn some things that you
can do to prevent getting sick in the first place. So until next time this is FamilyMed with
Dr Richardson. And remember don’t forget to take care of
your body because it’s the only one you have.

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