Symptoms to watch for
In most cases, strep throat symptoms appear within two to five days after contact with an infected person or a contaminated surface. In addition to severe throat pain that comes on very suddenly, strep throat symptoms may include:
- Painful swallowing
- Swollen tonsils, which may appear red with white patches or streaks of pus
- Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth (soft or hard palate)
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes at the front of the neck
- A skin rash
- Nausea and vomiting
- Body aches
Many of these symptoms can have causes other than a strep infection, such as a virus or general irritation, which require a very different treatment approach. Therefore, it’s important to identify the root cause of the symptoms by having a qualified medical professional test specifically for strep throat.
If strep is present, antibiotic treatment can help prevent the infection from spreading. Although antibiotics can be very effective for treating strep throat, it is important to understand that they are not appropriate for treating viral infections or general throat irritation. In fact, in those instances, antibiotics can actually do more harm than good.
Strep throat treatment for seniors
The primary form of treatment for strep throat is a course of antibiotics. This powerful medication can destroy the strep bacteria, relieve the associated sore throat and other symptoms, keep the infection from spreading, and also help prevent complications. For treating strep throat, doctors often prescribe penicillin or amoxicillin, both of which are proven to be effective against strep, and are also safe and relatively inexpensive.
Usually, antibiotics work quickly, and most people start to feel better within a day or two. Some ways to improve comfort in the meantime include:
- Getting plenty of rest, which can boost the body’s immune system and help it fight off the infection
- Drinking plenty of water to keep the throat lubricated, ease swallowing, and prevent dehydration
- Eating soothing, easy-to-swallow foods, such as broths, soups, applesauce, cooked cereal, mashed potatoes, soft fruits, yogurt, and soft-cooked eggs
- Avoiding spicy foods and acidic beverages, such as orange juice
- Gargling with warm salt water to relieve throat pain
- Using a cool-mist humidifier to add moisture to the air
- Using an over-the-counter saline nasal spray to help keep mucous membranes moist
- Avoiding throat irritants, such as cigarette smoke and cleaning product fumes
Most antibiotic treatments for strep throat last about 10 days. It is very important to complete the entire course of treatment, even if the symptoms go away. Stopping too soon may allow some bacteria to linger, which can lead to further health problems down the road. It can also allow the bacteria that cause strep become resistant to the medication, which means another strep infection could be much harder to control.