Strep throat is a common condition among all categories of age. Strep throat refers to pharyngeal infection with Group A hemolytic streptococcus bacteria and the disease is primarily manifested by throat inflammation, pain, discomfort and difficult swallowing. The disease can also be accompanied by symptoms such as moderate to high fever, nausea, headache, body weakness, decreased muscular tonus, fatigue and poor appetite. In some cases, strep throat can also be associated with tonsillitis (inflammation and infection of the tonsils), sinusitis (infection of the nasal and temporal sinuses) and otitis (ear infection).
The bacteria responsible for causing strep throat are highly contagious and can be easily contracted through saliva and nasal secretions. The causative infectious organisms can be acquired through sneezing, coughing and physical contact with an infected individual. Streptococcus bacteria are widespread during cold or flu seasons, and they are commonly contracted by persons with immune system weakened by past or existing viral infections.
Although strep throat is rarely severe, the recommended treatment consists in specific antibiotics (penicillin, amoxicillin, erythromycin, cephalosporines). Prescribed in the appropriate dose, the right antibiotics can speed up the recovery from disease and also prevent the occurrence of a series of complications. Under special circumstances (impaired immune system response), strep throat can lead to severe complications such as acute rheumatic fever (nowadays extremely rare), coronary disease and kidney disease.
While sometimes even stronger antibiotics (cephalosporines) may fail to completely eradicate throat infection with streptococcus bacteria, such medications play a crucial role in preventing the development of complications. Although antibiotics can produce various side-effects (temporary digestive problems, decreased immune system response to recurrent infections) and are not guaranteed to completely eradicate infections with streptococcus bacteria, they are by far superior to alternative therapies and home remedies which can at best provide temporary symptomatic relief.
It is important to note that most cases of strep throat require proper medical attention. Considering the fact that throat infection with streptococcus bacteria can degenerate into severe complications, the recommended thing to do when experiencing throat inflammation and pain is see a doctor as soon as possible. The doctor will perform a generalized clinical exam and laboratory analysis of throat mucus samples (when required) and upon the results to these tests will decide whether the use of antibiotics is necessary or not. Remember that the doctor is the only qualified person that can tell you when to use antibiotics, what antibiotics to use and in what dosage. Any form of self-medication with antibiotics or substitution of the doctor-recommended treatment with alternative treatments and therapies should be avoided.
Home remedies for strep throat should be perceived as adjutants for doctor-prescribed medications, not replacements. Most home remedies and alternative therapies are very efficient in alleviating the symptoms of strep throat but have low curative effects and can’t completely eradicate throat infection with streptococcus bacteria. The following remedies should only be used along with the doctor-recommended treatment to speed up the recovery from disease.
The most efficient home remedies for strep throat comprise: gargling with salt water (preferably warm) 2-3 times a day in order to alleviate throat inflammation and pain; using saline nasal sprays to maintain the mucous membranes moist; using mist humidifiers to increase air humidity (humidity helps decongest an obstructed throat or nose); covering the neck and forehead with compresses soaked in warm water to alleviate pain and fever; adding garlic or garlic extracts in the regular chamomile tea or in various foods to help the body fight against bacteria and recover from disease; using sage under the form of pills or tinctures to alleviate throat pain and inflammation. Persons with fever should be regularly given soups, teas and non-irritant natural juices to prevent dehydration. Corroborated with the doctor-prescribed medications, the remedies presented above will provide symptomatic relief and accelerate the recovery from disease.
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