Iʼm Dr. Ryan Stanton and itʼs time to find out Whatʼs Going Around this week. Recently, we have seen a spike in strep throat. Not only locally, but I have also heard from ERʼs and clinics around the region as well. Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the posterior pharynx and tonsils caused by Group A Streptococcus.

The infection is very common in children and adults. It is characterized by a sore throat, fever, headache, enlarged lymph nodes of the neck, and a red throat with white exudate. It is also a very common cause of abdominal pain in children. When I have a child come to the ER with generalized abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever, strep throat is right there at the top of the list of differentials.

Some folks are more prone to strep throat, in fact, some are colonized, meaning the strep test will be positive almost all the time, even when the person does not feel sick. This can be important because, in this population, an infection may be something else, so it is important to consider other sources, even when the screen comes back positive.

Speaking of that, the diagnosis of strep throat is a clinic with an exam and confirmed with an easy strep screen test performed with a swab of the back of the throat. Most clinics and emergency departments can have this done within 10-15 minutes. The treatment for strep throat is antibiotics. This can be done with a one-time injection or through a standard at home course of medicine.

There is growing evidence that most uncomplicated strep cases donʼt even need antibiotics because they will resolve on their own with the persons own immune system. This practice isnʼt widespread in the US yet, but I expect it to be the standard in the future. The best treatments for everyone are symptomatic management with
acetaminophen and ibuprofen. Also, topical medications for that sore throat can help as well. Other, medications made be necessary based on symptoms.

Work with your doctor on the best plan for you or your child. You can join the conversation on Facebook at our Whatʼs Going Around as well as the Stanton MD page. Also, follow @everydaymed on Twitter. I'm Dr. Ryan Stanton and that's what's going around.