Streptococcal pharyngitis, more commonly known as strep throat, is a throat bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils that is caused by a group A streptococcal infection. People of all ages can be affected by this bacterium. In fact, 1 in 10 of all conditions that affect the throat are caused by the streptococcal bacterium, though children are more susceptible to the illness, especially those who are between the ages of 5 and 15.
Strep throat is highly contagious, which is why it’s important to be aware of the signs that indicate you have been affected by the illness so as to avoid spreading it to others. If you have strep, you could infect someone else by simply sharing a glass with them.
A culture of the throat is necessary to confirm a diagnosis of strep; however, there are several tell-tale signs and symptoms that will indicate you have come down with the condition. Once strep throat is confirmed, a series of antibiotics will likely be prescribed in order to speed up recovery time and to prevent further complications from developing.
Remember that strep throat can present symptoms that are similar to other conditions, such as a viral infection or chronic bronchitis. This is why a throat culture is necessary, and why you should see a doctor as soon as possible if you develop any of the following 14 symptoms.
1. Difficulty swallowing
One of the first and most common signs of strep throat is difficulty swallowing. You might notice that you are having a hard time swallowing foods or beverages, or that it’s tough to swallow your own saliva. Since strep throat enlarges the tonsils, the swallowing mechanism is unable to function as it normally would. If you notice that you are having a hard time swallowing, schedule an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to rule out or confirm that strep throat is the cause of the problem.