Though inflammation of tonsils is one of the most common signs of strep throat, it is possible to develop strep throat without tonsils. The following write-up provides information on the contributory factors of this infection for those who have undergone tonsillectomy.
Strep throat is a throat infection that commonly affects children between the ages of 5 and 15. The causative agent of this infection is a strain of Group A Streptococcus bacteria. Medically referred to as streptococcal pharyngitis, this bacterial infection not only affects the pharynx, but also the tonsils (clumps of lymphoid tissue that are located on either side of the throat). Tonsillitis, which refers to the inflammation of the tonsils, could also be caused by this bacterial infection. Though the terms ‘strep throat’, ‘tonsillitis’, and ‘sore throat’ are used interchangeably by many people, these are different conditions. Sore throat and tonsillitis are commonly observed in people affected by strep throat. A study suggests that children who have had their tonsils removed are three times less likely to develop this infection when compared to those who haven’t. However, it should be noted that streptococcal pharyngitis could still affect them even if the incidence of strep throat decreases after this procedure.
Though this throat infection is more common among children and teenagers, it could affect people of all age groups. Streptococcus pyogenes, which is a strain of the Group A Streptococcus bacterium, is a gram-positive bacterium that is responsible for causing this infection. It may live in the throat and nose for months without causing any symptoms. However, it could multiply and become virulent in case of immunocompromised individuals. It is due to the production of exotoxins, and the presence of M proteins in its cell wall that enables this bacterium to cause medical conditions such as sore throat, impetigo, and scarlet fever.
This bacterium can easily get transmitted to others through direct contact or by inhaling the respiratory secretions of the affected person. The incubation period, which is the period from the exposure to the causative bacteria to the time when the affected individual begins to experience the symptoms, is around 2 to 5 days. Right from the time of exposure till the time when the symptoms appear, there’s a high risk of others getting infected.
A throat infection may not always be caused by Group A Streptococcus bacteria. There are viruses that could lead to the development of sore throat. These include:
► Common cold
► Viral pharyngitis
► Infectious mononucleosis
► Allergic rhinitis
Sore throat could be caused by viral infections. The symptoms could vary, depending on the causative agent. For instance, symptoms such as cough, runny nose, and sneezing often hint towards a viral infection rather than strep throat. Here are some of the characteristic symptoms of this bacterial infection.
► Sudden onset of sore throat
► Loss of appetite
► Difficulty in swallowing
► Swollen tonsils
Diagnosis and Treatment
Certain tests may be conducted to ascertain the nature of the throat infection. Strep throat can be diagnosed with the help of the following tests.
► Rapid strep test
► Throat swab
The treatment involves the use of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cephalexin, azithromycin, cefadroxil, and cefprozil. It is extremely essential to complete the course of antibiotics. If left untreated, strep throat could remain contagious for a couple of weeks. The bacterium could get transmitted to others for a couple of days after the patient starts the course of antibiotics. Thus, precautions must be taken by the affected person and his/her family members. Certain home remedies may also prove beneficial. Gargling with warm saline water and drinking herbal tea will surely provide relief.
Can Tonsillectomy Help?
Though this bacterial infection is often accompanied by tonsillitis, it is not just restricted to the tonsils. So, even if a child undergoes surgery for the removal of tonsils, he/she may still get strep throat. Moreover, every child may not be a suitable candidate for tonsillectomy. This procedure may be suggested only if a child suffers from recurring episodes of strep throat and tonsillitis in a year despite prompt medical treatment. Various aspects need to be considered to know if a child should undergo tonsillectomy or not. As is the case with every surgery, there’s the risk of bleeding. At times, anesthesia-related complications could occur. The overall health of the child should be analyzed beforehand.
Since children are more susceptible to strep throat, they must be informed about the precautionary measures that may help prevent the transmission of the pathogen. While avoiding direct contact with an affected person is the best way to prevent this infection, medical help must be sought if a child or an adult is exhibiting the symptoms of this bacterial infection.
The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.