Streptococcus pyogenes, often known as group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus or group A strep (GAS), is the most common cause of inflammation and pain in the back of the throat (pharyngitis). Strep tests include quick strep tests and throat cultures that detect these germs in the back of the throat sample.
While most sore throats are caused by a virus and recover without therapy within a few days, strep throat can also cause sore throats. Strep throat is most prevalent in children and adolescents ages 5 to 15. It is essential to rapidly diagnose and treat strep infections with antibiotics because they are very contagious and can cause problems.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes and others come into contact with the droplets or mucus, strep throat can quickly spread. Contacting your face, eyes, or mouth after touching an object containing infectious droplets might spread the disease. The most straightforward approach to prevent strep throat is to wash your hands frequently and thoroughly and to avoid sharing utensils and glasses. If you have a sore throat, you should frequently wash your hands and cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or sleeve.
Complications may develop if strep throat is not recognized and treated, especially in children. Among these problems is rheumatic fever, which can cause heart damage, and glomerulonephritis, which damages the kidneys. These consequences are uncommon in the United States since strep infections are frequently recognized and treated, but they still occur.
A quick strep test and a throat culture are used to identify group A strep as the origin of symptoms, allowing your doctor to prescribe the appropriate medications for therapy.
How is the exam utilized?
Strep tests are used to diagnose strep throat, an infection of the throat and tonsils caused by group A strep bacteria (GAS).
Group A strep proteins can be detected using a rapid antigen detection test (RADT) in quick strep assays (antigens). Typically, results are available within 10 to 20 minutes. In less than 8 minutes, molecular assays can discover genetic material from group A strep bacteria in throat swab specimens. If the quick test is positive, no further testing is required, and antibiotic therapy can be initiated immediately.
If the fast strep test is negative and your healthcare provider continues to suspect strep throat, a throat culture may be conducted. A culture will likely be performed on children and adolescents to confirm the results and avoid missing infections that could lead to significant consequences, such as rheumatic fever. A throat culture is more sensitive than a fast strep test, but findings may take between 24 and 48 hours to become available.
Why is a strep A test necessary?
Your physician may order a strep test. A test to determine if you or your child has strep throat. These consist of the following:
- A solid and sudden painful throat
- discomfort or trouble swallowing
- Fever of at least 101°
Swollen lymph nodes
Your physician may also request a strep test. A test to determine whether you or your child has a rash that begins on the face and extends to other body parts. This rash is a symptom of scarlet fever, a condition that can develop several days after strep A infection. Scarlet fever, like strep throat, is easily treated with medication.
If your sore throat is accompanied by symptoms such as a cough or a runny nose, you are more likely to have a viral infection than strep throat.
What occurs throughout a strep A test?
A fast test and a throat culture are performed identically. Throughout the procedure:
- You must tilt your head back and open your mouth as widely as possible.
- Your healthcare professional will hold your tongue down with a tongue depressor.
- They will collect a sample from the back of your throat and tonsils using a special swab.
- The specimen may be used in the provider’s office to conduct a quick strep test. The sample is sometimes forwarded to a laboratory.
- If necessary, your healthcare practitioner may collect a second sample and send it to a lab for a throat culture.
Should I do anything to prepare for the exam?
No extra preparations are required for a quick strep test or a throat culture.
Exist any hazards associated with the test?
There is no danger associated with swab testing. However, they may produce mild pain and nausea.
What do the findings imply?
A positive quick strep test result indicates that your child has throat or another strep A infection. No additional testing will be required.
If the quick test is negative, but the practitioner suspects that you or your kid has strep throat, they may prescribe a throat culture. If you or your child have not already submitted a sample, you will receive a second swab test.
If the throat culture tests positive, you or your child have strep throat or another strep-related infection.
If the throat culture was negative, it indicates that strep A is not the cause of your symptoms. Your doctor will likely prescribe more tests to assist in making a diagnosis.
Antibiotics will be necessary if you or your child have been diagnosed with strep throat. Typically, you will be required to take them for 10 days. After two days of taking the prescribed medication, you or your child should begin to feel better. After 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, most persons are no longer contagious. However, it is essential to take all prescribed medication as directed. Stopping too soon can result in rheumatic fever and other severe consequences.
Is there anything else I should be aware of with a strep A test?
Strep A can result in infections other than strep throat. These infections are less prevalent than strep throat but frequently more severe. This category includes toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis, sometimes known as flesh-eating bacteria.
There are different strep bacteria types. These include strep B, which can cause a deadly infection in infants, and streptococcus pneumonia, the most prevalent cause of pneumonia. Streptococcus pneumonia bacterium can also cause ear, sinus, and bloodstream infections.
Read Also: Physician Dispensing: What Pharmacists Need To Know