Strep throat FAQs
Who is most at risk?
- Children between the ages of 5 and 15.
- Those in close contact environments where bacterial infections can be easily spread
What are some of the most common complications?
Untreated, strep throat can resolve itself, but antibiotics can help to reduce the likelihood of further infection, resulting in the following possible complications:
- Sinusitis (sinus infection)
- Ear infection
- Scarlet fever
- Peritonsillar abscess (pus-filled infection of the tonsils)
- Rheumatic fever (infection of the joints, skin and heart muscle and heart valves)
- Post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (kidney inflammation)
- Guttate psoriasis (a skin condition that results in small, salmon-pink drops on the skin)
- Mastoiditis (infection of the skull’s mastoid bone)
- Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (a potentially life-threatening infection which may cause multi-organ failure)
If bacteria spread, areas of the body which may become infected include the tonsils, sinuses, blood, skin or middle ear.
Can strep throat be prevented?
Prevention for avoiding an infection is fairly similar to measures taken to reduce the possibility of spreading bacteria. Measures involve practicing good hygiene in frequented areas (the home, office or school environment), regular hand washing, covering the mouth and nose, as well as not sharing personal care items (toothbrushes, towels, razors etc), eating utensils, foodstuffs and drinking containers.
Ensuring that the body is well maintained through a healthy diet and regular exercise can also make it more resistant to frequent infections. Plenty of sleep and managing stress well can also give the immune system a much-needed boost, which can help to better fight off infections when they occur.
There is currently no vaccine available for preventing strep throat infections.
What is the outlook for strep throat infections?
Recurrence of strep infections is not all that common. Most infections are quickly resolved with minimal side-effect with good home-care, over-the-counter medications and where necessary, antibiotics.
What happens if you get strep throat during pregnancy?
It can happen. Pregnancy does not make a woman immune to bacterial, viral or fungal infections. The risk for an expectant mother is much the same as for anyone else with this bacterial infection. The primary need for treatment is to prevent potential complications which can have an adverse effect on both mother and unborn baby.
A pregnant woman will be prescribed antibiotics to treat infection, but will also be carefully monitored. Antibiotics do come with guideline classifications to be taken into consideration when prescribing them to a pregnant patient. Category A medications are usually those which provide the best treatment outcome and little to no risk of harming an expectant mother or her baby. Category B medications indicate that medical professionals must prescribe these with caution. In this instance, the medication has been tested with animals with a set of findings, but no controlled research has been conducted on pregnant women.
The most common antibiotics used to treat strep throat are all classified as category B medications. Animal studies on these medications have shown that use may impact a woman’s fertility or harm a developing baby, to some degree. Antibiotics can access a developing baby via placenta.
A doctor will typically weigh up potential risk against benefits of treatment. Risk of complications may be higher than those associated with a short course of antibiotics. Cephalexin may only be considered during pregnancy when no other options are available. Amoxicillin or penicillin have not shown findings in animal studies that appear to have adverse effects on a developing baby, and may be more commonly prescribed (provided a woman does not have an allergy). Penicillin is not known to pass in breast milk either.
In all cases, a pregnant woman will be carefully monitored during the treatment period. Home care treatment will also be recommended by a doctor to help alleviate symptoms and restore the body to optimum health as quickly as possible.
A pregnant woman should always take preventative measures by trying to avoid those who are sick as much as possible and ensure to stay sufficiently hydrated at all times. An early diagnosis of strep throat is preferable, for anyone, not just an expectant mother. The sooner treatment begins, the quicker development of complications can be avoided.