What's Going Around: tonsillitis and strep throat

What's Going Around: tonsillitis and strep throat

Do you have a sore throat?  Tonsillitis and strep throat are going around this week, according to Dr. Brad LeBert, otolaryngologist with ENT & Allergy Clinic.

There can be some confusion when it comes to knowing if the cause of your sore throat is viral or bacterial and if it is inflammation versus an infection.  The diagnosis is important in getting the right treatment underway.

"They're both going to present with a sore throat, difficulty swallowing, and young children oftentimes will present with stomach aches and diarrhea," said Dr. LeBert.  "They may not even have that much of a throat complaint, but when we look at the back of the throat, you see the typical white exudate along the tonsils."

Dr. LeBert says the exudate is a white coating that can be seen on the tonsils when an infection is present.  

The symptoms can be similar for tonsillitis and strep throat: throat pain, redness of the tonsils, loss of appetite, fever, and headache.

Tonsillitis tends to be viral.  Strep throat is bacterial.

"They both are contagious," said Dr. LeBert.  "Bacterial is usually considered contagious up to 24 hours after the beginning of antibiotic treatment and viral is actually contagious for three or four days after the onset of symptoms."

Both tonsillitis and strep spread easily.  

"It's actually spread through small droplets of saliva," said Dr. LeBert.  "It can be spread by sharing drinks, toothbrushes, also even especially with small children, fingers in the mouth, shaking hands, playing with each other can definitely make the virus spread through small droplets."

To prevent these highly contagious germs from spreading, wash your hands, sanitize common surfaces, and change out your toothbrush if you have recently had a sore throat.

The rapid strep test is a quick and accurate diagnostic tool used to determine whether or not strep bacteria are present in the patient's throat.

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