What Causes Frequent Strep Throat?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Kenneth Knowles, MD on February 14th, 2020

Woman getting tested for strep throat

Most people don’t realize how central the throat is to everyday functions until they’ve been plagued by strep throat. It starts with a scratchy, itchy feeling at the back of your throat and slowly grows into an impossibly uncomfortable burning sensation; some have compared the feeling to swallowing broken glass. Now, if that doesn’t paint a pretty picture in your head, try imagining these symptoms frequenting your throat more than seven times in a single year. This cycle is called recurring, or frequent, strep throat. The causes of this tenth circle of Dante’s Inferno can be spurred on by a number of things—from smaller immune structures in the tonsils to repeated exposure to group A bacteria. Stick around as we dive deeper into the causes of frequent strep throat and why seeking treatment for this bacterial infection is so important. 

A Closer Look at Strep Throat

What is strep throat? It’s a highly contagious bacterial infection that is transmitted from person to person, causing both inflammation and pain to the throat. While strep throat can affect people of all ages, it’s especially common in children between the ages of five and 15. 

Symptoms

While a sore throat is the most common symptom of strep throat, it’s important to note that strep only accounts for a small portion of sore throats. Additional symptoms to look for include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • White patches or streaks of pus along the tonsils
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck
  • A rash 
  • Nausea (especially common in younger children)
  • Fever, body aches, and chills

Symptoms of strep throat can persist anywhere from seven to 10 days. Keep in mind, however, that while it’s possible to display a number of these aforementioned signs, you may not actually have strep throat. To confirm your suspicions, seek professional medical attention. A doctor can perform specific tests that monitor the group A bacterium that causes the infection.

The Circle Game: Common Causes of Frequent Strep Throat

Strep throat is commonly caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. As a highly contagious bacterial infection, it can quickly be shared via contaminates in the air, food, and other public areas exposed to the bacteria. Those with comorbidities and weakened immune systems are at greater risk of contraction and can easily fall victim to frequent strep throat. This occurs when the condition recurs more than seven times in a single year. 

At-Risk Patients

Approximately 600 million people around the world contract strep throat each year. Unfortunately, some children and adults are affected by the bacterial infection on a recurring basis. Why? In recent studies, professionals found that some children are predisposed to group A bacteria and have a poor germinal center response on the tonsils. This means there is a lack of infection-fighting antibodies needed to successfully drive the bacteria away. In most cases, the strep bacteria in these individuals will lay dormant and can leave those at risk for future infections. While a course of antibiotics is usually an effective treatment for strep throat, in recurring cases a physician may recommend a long-term solution like a tonsillectomy—surgery that permanently removes the tonsils.

Seeking Treatment

If left untreated, strep throat can lead to serious infections in other areas of the body, such as the ears and nose. In some cases, it has even lead to severe complications such as abscesses around the tonsils, sinus infections, rheumatic fever, and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (a kidney disease). The best way to prevent recurring cases of strep throat and reduce the chance of serious complications is to seek out professional medical attention as soon as you notice the onsetting symptoms. 

Get Treatment Delivered to Your Home 

Unfortunately, managing a trip to the nearest ER can quickly become a stressful situation for caregivers and ill dependents alike. That’s one of the many reasons more and more people are choosing to rely on on-demand medical service, like the one provided by DispatchHealth. Our housecall services can conveniently be requested via phone, mobile app, or through our website. Once contacted, one of our qualified medical teams will arrive at your home within a few hours, equipped with a medical kit that contains nearly all of the tools and technologies found in a traditional ER. With it, we can perform a wide variety of advanced tests and treatments—including the specialized tests required for a professional strep throat diagnosis. 

To learn more about the comfort and convenience of turning to DispatchHealth for your medical needs, contact us today!

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/strep-throat/symptoms-causes/syc-20350338
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/strep-throat#symptoms
  3. https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/frequent-strep-throat-immune-system-tonsils
  4. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/why-your-kid-keeps-getting-strep-throat
  5. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/strep-throat/expert-answers/recurring-strep-throat/faq-20058360
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/rheumatic-fever.html
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