5 Tips for Managing Highly Contagious Strep Infections

strep throat, strep infections

The CDC doesn't track every occurrence of strep infection, but it estimates that over 13,000 people in the U.S. develop invasive strep infections that can lead to kidney failure, necrotizing fasciitis, and even death.

If you think you may have a strep infection, then understanding how to manage it may just be the difference between a mild strep infection and a life-threatening one. These five tips help you do just that.

1. Get plenty of sleep

If you feel like sleeping, turn off the TV. Stop scrolling through your social media feed to pass the time. Stop working and let yourself sleep. If you're trying to go to work, realize that it will take longer for you to get better. When you're sick with something like strep, your body encourages you to sleep for a reason. Sleep is when your body can fully relax all nonessential functions to focus on fighting the infection and healing your body.

2. Gargle with salt water

Before people had easy access to medication, salt water allowed parents to provide their children and themselves with some relief from sore throats. Whether people understood why it helps or not, salt water does provide some symptom relief for those with strep bacteria in their throat.

Sodium salt, the kind usually found in table salt, pulls moisture out of the cells, and with that moisture comes the Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria. Few viruses or bacteria can exist in a very salty environment, so the bacteria dies. Salt water isn't a fix as the bacteria continue to multiply down in your throat, but it can provide you some relief until you can get to the doctor. Don't intentionally swallow the salt, and avoid this management strategy if you're salt sensitive.

3. Drink lots of water

The last thing you want to do when you have strep is to swallow. Each gulp delivers waves of agony, but staying hydrated helps your body carry important bacteria fighters called antibodies and antibiotic medication through the bloodstream so that together they can decimate the bacterial infection.

4. Take precautions to avoid further spread

Common strep symptoms include:

If you or your child have these symptoms, don't go to work or school and take precaution to avoid spreading the contagion to others, particularly small children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems.

Strep bacteria are always present in your body, but they rarely cause an infection. You're more likely to develop an infection when exposed to the strep in someone else's body through:

If you know you or your child have strep, stay away from people who are likely to contract it and practice smart hygiene.

Highly contagious strep throat has an incubation period of two to five days, which means you or your child may have no symptoms after infection for almost a week, but you may still be contagious until you have been on antibiotics for at least 48 hours.

5. Visit Crossroads Family Medicine

Strep throat may take up to seven miserable days to go away on its own, and it wreaks havoc on the body, but typically within one day of starting antibiotics, the pain subsides so you or your child can get back to work, school, and life. On top of the misery, an untreated strep infection may lead to dangerous kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever, which causes permanent joint damage.

Remember to never stop taking antibiotics before you've finished the whole bottle. If you do, you're contributing to the creation of life-threatening, antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs.

Don't suffer from strep and then risk passing it to others. Avoid serious life-altering complications. Contact the practice to schedule an appointment.

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