Is it Strep Throat? Symptoms, Treatments and Over-the-counter Remedies


Have you ever had a sore throat so painful that even drinking a glass of water seems like a chore? It surely isn’t the best feeling out there! In fact, a very painful sore throat may have a more complex cause that you didn’t expect. This could be the case in strep throat!

Strep throat is medically referred to as streptococcal pharyngitis. It’s actually an infection cause by bacteria called Streptococcus. Contrary to usual brief episodes of sore throat, a strep throat causes more painful bouts of swallowing. A doctor can determine if you indeed have a strep throat by conducting a test called the “rapid strep test”.

What are the strep throat symptoms?

It’s quite tricky to distinguish strep throat from usual casess of a sore throat. Knowing the symptoms, however, can help you find out. Here are some of them:

  • Fever beyond 38.3 degrees Celsius (101 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Yellow or white spots at the back of a bright red throat.
  • Swollen lymph nodes and tonsils. Lymph nodes are small glands found below your jaw, below your armpits and along the groins. Those underneath the jaw usually swell up during mouth and throat infections. They can feel like slightly hardened tapioca balls when swollen.
  • Difficulty in swallowing due to swelling and pain.
  • A headache and stomach pain. (Read more about Headache Remedies)
  • In some cases, generalized body pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, and red skin rashes also manifest.

What treatments can work for strep throat?

Fortunately, there are various things you can do to help resolve strep throat. Some of these include the following:

  • Sipping warm drinks can bring some relief to your throat. You may go for herbal teas, clear soups, or tea with lemon and honey.
  • Gargling with apple cider vinegar or salt water can help. These substances have antibacterial properties that can help curing the throat infection and relieving pain.
  • Using a humidifier will prevent having a dry mouth and throat.
  • Among the list of available treatments, antibiotics are still the cornerstone. You will need a prescription before you can take them.

Are there are any available over-the-counter (OTC) drugs for strep throat?

Yes, there are! In addition to antibiotics and the above measures for relief, these OTC medications can make the symptoms more manageable. Such treatments include:

  • Lozenges (medications in a hard candy base) can promote increased production of saliva. In effect, this will keep your throat moist.
  • Lozenges with anesthetics, like benzocaine and menthol, can minimize and even eliminate the pain. Some lozenges contain local antiseptics as well to help fight bacteria.
  • Certain throat sprays may contain topical anesthetics as well. These can give you temporary pain relief.
  • Medications like naproxen and ibuprofen can assist in relieving pain. They can also help minimize throat swelling.

Please read risks when using ibuprofen: Ibuprofen – The Risks!

As soon as you determine the signs and symptoms of a possible strep throat, make sure to consult your physician for proper diagnosis and prescription of antibiotics. Keep in mind that strep throat has complications. If left untreated, this can lead to serious joint and heart problems, just to name a few. So it’s really better to be safe than sorry!