Strep Throat (cont.)
John Mersch, MD, FAAP
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
In this Article
- Strep throat facts
- What is strep throat?
- What causes a sore throat?
- What are tonsils and tonsillitis?
- What are pharynx and pharyngitis?
- Viral causes of throat infection
- Bacterial causes of throat infection
- How common is strep throat?
- Is strep throat contagious?
- What are the signs and symptoms of strep throat?
- Are strep throat symptoms different in children compared to adults?
- When should I be concerned about a possible strep throat?
- How is strep throat diagnosed?
- Who should be tested for strep throat?
- How is strep infection treated?
- How can viral throat infection be treated?
- Are there any recommended strep throat remedies and symptom reducers?
- When should the tonsils be removed?
- Why is it very important to detect and treat a strep throat?
- What are the potential complications of untreated strep throat infection?
- Is there a vaccine for strep throat?
- Can strep throat be prevented?
- Just a Sore Throat or Strep - Slideshow
- Take the Strep Throat Infection Quiz!
- Infectious Mononucleosis - Slideshow
- Strep Throat (Streptococcal) Infection FAQs
What are the pharynx and pharyngitis?
The pharynx is the area behind the palate in the back of the throat shared by the oral cavity and the nasal cavity. An infection or inflammation of the pharynx is called pharyngitis. The infectious causes are similar to those causing tonsillitis, which are mainly related to viruses and less commonly to bacterial infection. As with the term “tonsillitis,” the diagnosis of "pharyngitis" does not imply a specific cause.
Because it is difficult to always distinguish exactly between pharyngitis and tonsillitis, throat infections are commonly referred to as tonsillopharyngitis, which signifies an infection of these adjacent areas of the throat.
Viral causes of throat infection
Viruses are the most common cause of throat infection in children and in adults. Many types of viruses are known to cause throat infection, and their symptoms may be difficult to distinguish from those of a bacterial infection. In addition, there are a large number of physical exam findings common to both viral and bacterial caueses of tonsillopharyngitis.
Throat infections caused by viruses usually occur in non-winter months.
Bacterial causes of throat infection
Bacterial causes of throat infections (tonsillopharyngitis) require further attention from individuals (and their parents or caregiver if the sick person is a child) and physicians.
Streptococcus, or strep, is the most frequently found bacterial cause of sore throat.
The commonly known strep throat is due to only one member of the Streptococcus family of bacteria. This certain streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes) belongs to the Group A Streptococcus bacteria (GAS for short). This group of bacteria is also known to cause skin infections, soft tissue infections, and pneumonia (lung infection).
There are many other bacteria that may also cause throat infections. Group A Streptococcus is the most common cause in children and adolescents. Mycoplasma, Neisseria, Corynebacterium, Yersinia, and non-Group A Strep bacteria are some of the other bacterial causes of throat infection.
Bacterial throat infections typically occur in the winter months.
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