Throat Infection vs. Strep Throat

A throat infection, also known as pharyngitis, can occur in the throat and tonsils. Throat infections are most commonly caused by the common cold, and do not require an antibiotic to treat.  Another virus that can cause throat infection is Mononucleosis, which is mostly seen in young people. Symptoms include a sore throat, fever, lymph gland tenderness and swelling around your neck and throat.  A blood test, known as a Mono spot, can diagnose.  Antibiotics are not the treatment.  Additional conditions that can cause throat infection is dry air, smoking, post-nasal drip, allergies, singing, yelling, and sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea.

The CDC reports Strep pharyngitis is caused by Group A Strep bacteria. It can be easily transmitted to others, and highly contagious via droplets from cough, sneeze, or sharing personal objects like cups, tooth brushes, etc.  Symptoms include sore throat, painful swallowing, fever, headache, swollen lymph glands, nausea, vomiting and stomach ache.  Redness to the throat and pus on tonsils may be noted upon examination.  Testing can be done via rapid strep test, or a throat culture.

The Mayo Clinic reports the treatment of choice is antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin. If the individual is allergic to penicillin, they can be given Keflex, Zithromax, Biaxin, or Clindamycin.  Warm broth or apple juice, throat lozenges, gargling 1 tablespoon of salt with warm water can provide some comfort.  For pain and fever, Acetaminophen, Ibuprofen, or Naproxen can be bought over the counter.  Additionally, it would help to eat soft foods, drink plenty of fluids, and rest.  Avoid smoking to reduce irritation to the throat.  A humidifier can moisten the air to reduce irritation from dry air. Also, change your toothbrush to prevent re-infection.  Make sure to perform frequent handwashing to prevent spreading, as well as covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Seek immediate medical care if you are struggling to breath, drooling, spitting out saliva because you can’t swallow, unable to open your mouth completely, high fever, severe sore throat (could be tonsil abscess), wide spread rash (rheumatic fever), or ear pain. Strep infections can affect the tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, middle ear, and kidneys. Complications include tonsil abscess, rheumatic fever, and kidney infection.

You can return to work or school after 24 hours fever free, and on the antibiotics for at least 24 hours.

 

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Acute vs Chronic Bronchitis

Acute bronchitis is more common during cold and flu season. Acute inflammation is caused by a virus or bacterial infection and usually resolves on its own except for people with:
1. Respiratory irritants such as cigarette smoke, pollutants, chemicals
2. Lowered immune system- such as children, elderly, pregnancy, cancer,
diabetes, HIV
3. Heartburn- GERD
4. Respiratory conditions- Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
(COPD)
Symptoms usually began with upper respiratory set the symptoms such as sore throat stuffy nose and cough. The cough starts as a dry hacking nonproductive and usually interrupts sleep. After a few days mucus production begins. Chest X rays may be normal or show inflammation. Scattered wheezing may be noted, and fever may be present. Respiratory infections can last up to 3 weeks. Symptoms include cough with little to no sputum, low grade fever or chills, sore throat, body aches, tightness or pressure of the chest. Sputum tests look for type of respiratory infection such as pertussis.

Chronic bronchitis involves excessive mucus production. There is a relationship between the amount and duration of cigarette smoking and severity of bronchitis. But in advanced stages of chronic bronchitis, emphysema can develop as well as heart failure, increased airway obstruction, and Polycythemia which can result in pulmonary embolism. Diagnosis occurs when the cough and increased mucus production occurs three months each year for two years. Advanced stages of chronic bronchitis can resemble emphysema. Over time chest xray results would show hyperinflation of the lungs. Pulmonary function tests show airway obstruction.

Seek medical care if:
1. Cough lasts more than 3 weeks
2. Prevents you from sleeping
3. Fever of more than 100.4
4. Yellow/green/dark colored mucus or having streaks of blood
5. Having wheezing or SOB

Treatment includes bed rest, and increase of fluid intake as well as:
1. An antibiotic if infection is bacterial
2. Cough medicine- to help expectorate mucus. Cough suppressant only at
bedtime allows for better sleep
3. Inhalers to reduce inflammation and open narrowed passages in your lungs
4. Wear mask if your exposed to respiratory irritants at work
5. Use humidifier
6. Vaccines- flu, and pneumonia
7. Hand washing to prevent spread of viral infections.
8. Use hand sanitizers