Tonsils are known to help you in preventing viruses and bacteria that come in through your mouth. These two lymph nodes that can be found at the back side part of your throat are powerful parts of your body in disease prevention.
They are particularly helpful in killing germs that can cause throat and lung infections because they consist of immune cell-produced antibodies. At times, the tonsils themselves fail to function and become infected and this is what causes tonsillitis.
Tonsillectomy is the procedure of surgically removing the tonsils. This might be due to various factors including its damage from other diseases but most likely due to repetitive cases of tonsillitis. This repetitive cases of tonsillitis produce chronic inflammation to its tissue and the surgery is the only way to prevent it.
What is Strep Throat?
Streptococcal infection or commonly known as strep is an infection in the throat that is caused by a bacteria. More specifically, it is caused by the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria.
Strep throat happens exactly in the pharynx and in the tonsils. In fact, it is scientifically referred to as acute exudative tonsillopharyngitis. With strep infection, the throat becomes inflamed and irritated which then causes a sore throat oftentimes more severe than usual.
There are two kinds of strep throat: chronic and acute. The more serious kind is the chronic strep throat as it can cause serious damage to your tonsils and pharynx.
Strep throat is contagious either airborne, shared food and drinks, or direct contact with saliva or nasal secretions. Anyone of any age can catch strep throat but it most usually occurs with children and adolescents. The bacteria is very contagious in the beginning even before symptoms show up but decreases once a medication has been taken.
Strep throat also happens at any time of the year. However, most cases of the illness happen between early spring and late fall.
Strep Throat Symptoms
Identifying strep throat is not difficult as many symptoms happen early on. This would initially and commonly include throat pain which of course makes it difficult for you to swallow, swollen lymph nodes on the neck, and sometimes tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth also appear.
For some, and eventually, strep throat starts to show up in other various symptoms including a fever, headache, rashes, body ache, nausea, and vomiting. These are most prominent to children suffering the illness for the first time.
Strep throat can also happen to infants, although fortunately very uncommon. This is noticeable when the infant is feeding less, irritable and cries more than usual, and produces a nasal discharge. Fever is also a possibility.
These symptoms most usually develop and show up within five days of contact with the bacteria. As the symptoms of strep throat are also very similar to symptoms of other diseases, it is best to consult your doctor if the symptoms still persist after 48 hours or after medication.
In consulting the doctor, there are types of tests they would usually conduct to identify whether you have strep throat or you have something else. The well-known ones are the rapid antigen test and throat culture.
In the rapid antigen test, a search of the strep bacteria is conducted through present substances and antigens in your throat. Meanwhile, a sterile swab is placed and rubbed over the back of your throat in performing throat culture. The swap is then cultured in the laboratory for up to two days to determine if the bacteria is present in your throat.
Strep Throat vs Sore Throat
As mentioned, one initial symptom of strep throat is a sore throat. Since others may not suffer or experience the other symptoms, it is sometimes mistaken for a sore throat. This poses risks for others in catching the bacteria of false self-prescription.
It is important to note that strep throat is caused by a bacteria alone. On the other hand, sore throat can be caused by different and numerous factors including strep throat itself. Other than that, it can also be caused by a virus, the weather, strained throat due to shouting, and other diseases.
To put it simply, if you have a strep throat you automatically have a sore throat. However, if you have a sore throat, you do not automatically have a strep throat.
Causes of Strep Throat
As mentioned, strep throat is caused by the streptococcal bacteria. This is not just one bacteria, in fact, there exist many different kinds of streptococcal bacteria. Some are less serious while some cause severe throat illnesses.
The strep bacteria can only be caught by others who carry the bacteria as well. There are of course many ways how this can get carried from one person to another. A typical way of getting the bacteria is via air. This is most prominent in household or persons living under one roof.
What accelerates the spread of bacteria is sharing of utensils, drinking glass, or drinking water. This is because a direct contact with the infected saliva is done. With that said, direct skin to skin contact with the nose, mouth, and near parts of the face is also a huge cause of strep throat.
Once someone has contracted the bacteria, it eventually multiplies. Pus will then begin to form and collect in the tonsils. This then makes them enlarged which causes a sore throat. Some severe instances affect and make even the lymph nodes larger.
Strep Throat Without Tonsils
Most who have gone through tonsillectomy or considering on having one may be wondering if strep throat happens even without tonsils. By now, you must have read and understood that strep throat not only affects the tonsils but as well the pharynx and even the lymph nodes. With that said, strep throat is possible and can happen without tonsils.
To be exact, the strep bacteria affects the four main groups of lymph tissues in your throat. These are the pharyngeal tonsils, Eustachian tube tonsils, lingual tonsils, and palatine tonsils. Presence of the strep bacteria can still equally affect these tissues even without the tonsils.
However, having no tonsils is actually helpful in reducing strep throat. This is proven by some cases of fewer strep throat incidence in people who have gone through tonsillectomy. This is because, with the tonsils gone, they could no longer be the source of the infection.
This is also the reason for some doctors to remove your tonsils. Those who suffer from recurring strep throat opt for this option to lessen their chances of contracting the disease continuously. Tonsillectomy exactly made for recurring strep throat often requires the doctor to remove the pharyngeal tonsil.
You may then be wondering how different is strep throat between those who have tonsils and those who do not. Symptoms are still in fact very similar between the two. The only difference is the enlargement and inflammation of the tonsils. However, sore throat and possible headaches, nausea, and vomiting can still affect both groups.
Strep Throat Treatment
The most common treatment for a strep throat is a prescribed antibiotic by physicians. This is particularly helpful in reducing the living antigens in the throat as well as reducing the strength of the disease to be spread and carried by others. Taking antibiotics will eventually help other existing symptoms to be alleviated as well.
There are, on the other hand, available over the counter medicines for those suffering from mild kind of bacteria and going through fewer symptoms. This includes acetaminophen like Tylenol or ibuprofen like Advil. This specifically helps in alleviating any pain and reducing fever.
It is important to remember that even upon taking medications, a person is still infected and can still very much spread the bacteria. Those who took antibiotics stop being contagious in as soon as 24 hours. If you opted for over the counter medications, you are still possibly contagious for up to 3 weeks.
With that said, there are a handful ways on how to prevent catching the bacteria if you are aware that someone you know is carrying it. Always the best option is to avoid these people until they have finally recovered. However, if this is impossible, avoid direct contact with them and wash your hand and utensils frequently and carefully.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection that causes a great deal of pain in your throat, specifically the pharynx and the tonsils. Other symptoms are also present and vary from person to person.
If you have gone or considering to go through tonsillectomy to remove your tonsils, you may be wondering if you can still get the bacteria. The straight answer is yes. This is because the tonsils are just one area the strep bacteria targets on your body. There are other tissues and parts that are still susceptible to the bacteria.
However, it is proven that with no tonsils, the occurrence of strep throat is lesser than those who have. If you are suffering from recurring strep throat then, this might be a good way to prevent it and alleviate your pain.