Although more common in children, strep throat is an infection that affects the throat and tonsils, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Whether you are a child or an adult, it is always important to seek medical treatment if you have strep throat symptoms. Left untreated, strep throat can progress to scarlet fever or rheumatic fever.

What are Strep Symptoms?

strep throat

One telltale sign that you might have more than a sore throat is if you have pain in your throat and a fever, but are not coughing or sneezing, according to the CDC. Symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sore throat
  • Pain when you swallow
  • Fever
  • Red, swollen tonsils that sometimes have pus that appear as white patches
  • Tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes on the neck

Children with strep may also experience headache, stomach pain, nausea, or vomiting. A medical professional, like the ones at Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine in Colorado, will evaluate your symptoms and perform a rapid strep test or throat culture if necessary. Strep throat treatment typically includes a provider prescribing antibiotics.

Although strep is treated with antibiotics, you can can also ease strep infection symptoms by:

  • Using a humidifier
  • Gargling salt water
  • Drinking warm liquids like herbal teas or clear soups

Are You at High Risk for Strep?

Strep is most common in children aged 5 to 15 years old, but adults are susceptible if they have school-aged children or are in contact with children – like school teachers or daycare aides. Keep in mind that strep is highly contagious. If one member in the household has strep it is likely to spread to all members of the household.

Rheumatic Fever and Scarlet Fever

In some cases, strep can progress to rheumatic fever or scarlet fever if not treated. Scarlet fever is a rash that can appear prior to symptoms of strep or up to one week after symptoms, according to the CDC. The rash is red and feels like sandpaper. The rash may appear “in the creases of the underarm, elbow, and groin,” the CDC states. Like strep throat, scarlet fever is treated by a medical professional with antibiotics.

Rheumatic fever can develop if you do not seek treatment for strep throat or scarlet fever. According to the CDC, it can take one to five weeks after the onset of strep or scarlet fever for rheumatic fever to develop. Signs and symptoms of rheumatic fever include:

  • Painful, tender joints
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, and/or fast heartbeat
  • Fatigue
  • Uncontrollable, jerky body movements

There is the potential for long-term damage if you have rheumatic fever and it is not treated right away. If you suspect you have strep throat, scarlet fever, or rheumatic fever, it is best to seek treatment by a medical professional.

Stop by an Advanced Urgent Care & Occupational Medicine location if you think you or your children might have strep throat. Our medical providers can assess your symptoms and get you feeling better sooner. We are conveniently located across Colorado’s Denver metro area, but you can also be seen via a telehealth visit. Click here to learn more about virtual urgent care and to schedule a visit.