Strep Throat - A Pain in the......Throat

Oct 23, 2018

By Barret Procyshyn

The flu, common cold, sinus infections, and strep throat wreak havoc on families as these illnesses thrive in the fall season and into the winter. With a soon to be three and one year old at home, it's a germ-fest to say the least. I feel like someone's tummy is always hurting, noses are running more than the Vermillion river and every time my phone rings, I hope its not daycare calling about a feverish child. Currently we are dealing with what we think might be a case of strep throat with one of the kids.

While children have a higher risk of getting strep throat, adults can get it too. Strep throat is an infection caused by bacteria from the streptococcus family. Symptoms vary, but number one is you guessed it; a very sore throat. Other symptoms include pain when swallowing, fever, swollen tonsils and white or yellow spots on the back of the throat. While my son did not get the fever or complain of pain when swallowing, we have noticed decreased appetite, lack of energy and definite white spots on some very swollen tonsils.

Strep throat is contagious so yes, handwashing covering your mouth while sneezing, not sharing drinking and eat utensils is very important. If you are a civilized adult this is all somewhat manageable. If you are a toddler I am going to call this impossible. The good news is the odds of being contagious after 24 hours of antibiotic use drop significantly.

Not having strep throat since I was a child almost made me forget about the process. At walk in most are given a rapid strep test first, which is a quick swab of the back of the throat and a 5 to 10-minute wait. If its positive antibiotic treatment is likely. A second test is a throat culture, so it is another swab which is sent away to the lab. These results take a few days. If a child is too young to communicate their symptoms, it may be difficult to determine what illness the child has, and the process can be frustrating for parents.

It is important to discuss treatment with your physician, so you clearly understand the plan for antibiotic use. You may want to get a prescription from them and hold it at the pharmacy until you are advised of the test results. It is even more crucial comprehend that in most cases antibiotic treatment is not required. This because the illness is being caused by a virus. Antibiotics are not necessary because they simply will not work. In fact, if you have cold symptoms such as coughing, sneezing or runny nose along with the sore throat, it is probably a viral common cold. Using antibiotics to attempt to treat a viral infection can lead to antibiotic resistance. Resistance can develop when antibiotics are used unnecessarily or too often. If resistance develops, the next time an antibiotic is needed, it may not work! Antibiotics can also have unwanted side effects like upset stomach, nausea, cramping or diarrhea.

If you are prescribed antibiotics, pharmacists most commonly see amoxicillin, penicillin or cephalexin written on the prescription. It is always very important to discuss any medication allergies with the physician at walk-in, as they may not be fully aware of your medical history. This is also highlights the importance of the pharmacist, as we are a crucial check and balance to make sure the medication is going to be safe. Also, always ensure your pharmacist explains how and when to use the medications. Antibiotics, if required usually clear strep bacteria fast and effectively. You should finish off the full treatment course, so the infection does not return if this is the case.

Your clinic pharmacist can help suggest acetaminophen or anti-inflammatories (such as Ibuprofen or naproxen). Gargling with salt water and using throat lozenges are two common ways to ease the discomfort. The DCP also carries an aloe saline spray with a special nozzle, which is not overly pleasant to use but seems to work quite nicely based on customer reviews.

If you are that parent, remember your clinic pharmacist can help make life better and easier by ensuring it's the right medication and its proper use is fully explained. I like to consider myself a family pharmacist, so myself of one of our team of pharmacists are always there to help. Once it hits -30, this can all be done at the drive thru with the kids in the car, or via our delivery service seven days a week.


Read more Health Articles

Unite Interactive