Strep Throat Symptoms and Treatments for Adults

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Strep ThroatStrep Throat In Adults

Strep throat in adults can present itself in several variations. Generally speaking, it is a bacterial infection that occurs in the throat and tonsils. Streptococcal bacteria can cause strep throat, irritation and inflammation.

A sore throat is often wrongly mistaken for strep. While strep does cause pain in the throat, sore throats are typically viral infections and associated with symptoms of a cold, such as coughing and sneezing. Strep throat has its own set of symptoms and brings its own set of complications apart from just a sore throat.

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Strep Throat Symptoms in Adults

Although strep throat may be more common during childhood and adolescence, it’s also an issue for adults. Much of the symptoms are the same and instantly recognizable. Symptoms usually appear within five days after being infected, such as:

  • Severe sore throat
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • High fever
  • Stomach pain, vomiting and headaches can also occur but they are less frequent symptoms of strep throat

It’s important for adults to pay attention if they are experiencing any of these symptoms. The symptoms of strep throat in adults are typically not as pronounced and can go undetected or even mistaken for a sore throat. Sore throats typically go away after about a week. Strep throat requires antibiotics, so getting the proper treatment is crucial.

How Does Tonsillitis Relate to Strep Throat?

Tonsils are small, visible masses of tissue that can be seen on the back of the throat. When the tonsils are infected, it is known as tonsillitis.

Some may wonder whether or not it is possible to get strep throat if you have your tonsils removed. The answer is yes; however, you are at a lower risk of being infected by strep throat if you have your tonsils removed.

Tonsils are split into four different set of lymph tissues:

  • Pharyngeal tonsils
  • Eustachian tube tonsils
  • Lingual tonsils
  • Palatine tonsils

Any of these masses of tissue can become infected with the streptococcus bacteria. Doctors typically remove the pharyngeal tonsils if strep throat infection is repeated.

What Causes Strep Throat? Why Is It Contagious?

One of the more discerning elements of strep throat is that it is highly contagious. It can be passed from person-to-person in a variety of ways, such as:

  • Kissing
  • Coughing
  • Sharing food
  • Sneezing
  • Breathing in the air of an infected individual

As you can see, it doesn’t take much to pass on strep throat. As long as you are showing symptoms, you are capable of spreading the infection. We’ve identified streptococcus as the bacteria that causes strep throat, but it is possible to have the streptococcus bacteria on your skin without actually getting the disease. This strand of streptococcus is characterized as Group A.

One of the reasons why strep throat is so contagious among school-aged children is because many schools are held in enclosed environments. Since students are in close proximity of each other, it becomes much easier to spread viruses. For adults, similar enclosed venues include gyms and workplaces.

Treatments for Strep Throat

One of the best ways to treat strep throat bacteria is with antibiotics. Penicillin and amoxicillin are two effective antibiotic treatments proven to fight the bacteria. But the other symptoms of strep throat need to be dealt with if you hope to make a full recovery.

Simple, home treatments that you can do to combat the symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Rest
  • Drinking fluids (e.g. water)
  • Drinking herbal teas
  • Taking acetaminophen (pain-reliever)

It’s important to first confirm with a doctor that you have strep throat. If left untreated, strep throat can lead to other illnesses such as rheumatic fever.

Strep Throat Prevention

Preventing strep throat may prove to be challenging, but not impossible:

  • Avoid other infected individuals
  • Frequently wash your hands
  • Don’t share food, beverages or utensils with others
  • Don’t share toothbrushes
  • Don’t use public towels

Strep throat in adults may be a pain, but it’s not deadly. Practice proper prevention techniques, such as frequent handwashing and avoid sharing utensils. If you do become infected, it’s important to get treated as soon as possible. Strep throat is too contagious to be left untreated, and can lead to far more serious illnesses.

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Sources for Today’s Article:
“Tonsillitis, Strep Throat,” Dr.Weil.com; http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART03438/Tonsillitis-Strep-Throat.html, last accessed December 11, 2015.
“The Difference Between a Sore Throat, Strep and Tonsillitis,” healthychildren.org; https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/ear-nose-throat/Pages/The-Difference-Between-a-Sore-Throat-Strep-and-Tonsillitis.aspx, last accessed December 11, 2015.
“Can You Get Strep Without Tonsils?” enkivillage.com; http://www.enkivillage.com/can-you-get-strep-without-tonsils.html, last accessed December 11, 2015.
“Strep Throat Symptoms in Adults,” med-health.net; http://www.med-health.net/Strep-Throat-Symptoms-in-Adults.html, last accessed December 11, 2015.
“Strep Throat Symptoms in Children and Adults,” eMedicineHealth web site, http://www.emedicinehealth.org/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=185015, last accessed December 11, 2015.
“Is Your Sore Throat a Cold, Strep Throat, or Tonsillitis?” WebMD web site, http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/sore-throat-cold-strep-throat-tonsillitis?page=2, last accessed December 11, 2015.
“How to Tell if You Have Strep Throat,” wikiHow web site, http://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-You-Have-Strep-Throat, last accessed December 11, 2015.


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Dr. Richard Foxx, MD

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Richard M. Foxx, MD has decades of medical experience with a comprehensive background in endocrinology, aesthetic and laser medicine, gynecology, and sports medicine. He has extensive experience with professional athletes, including several Olympic competitors. Dr. Foxx practices aesthetic and laser medicine, integrative medicine, and anti-aging medicine. He is the founder and Medical Director of the Medical and Skin Spa located in Indian Wells, California, at the Hyatt Regency Resort. Dr. Foxx is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners... Read Full Bio »