Your throat has been feeling sore for a few days now and it’s not getting better. In fact, you are now experiencing a fever. You also find it difficult to swallow, and your lymph nodes feel swollen.
You feel like hell and you don’t know what is wrong with you.
You’re hoping that it is just a simple sore throat. But you can’t shake off the anxiety that you are feeling because it might be COVID-19 or something equally worse. What if it isn’t just a sore throat?
Well, before anything else, you should relax and stop worrying. Why?
Well, because what you have just described are signs and symptoms of strep throat, which is a cause of sore throat. While having it may lead to complications, it’s far from a serious illness.
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is a non-invasive group A strep disease caused by a bacterial infection. While it is not a serious illness, prompt diagnosis and treatment are wise steps to avoid health complications such as kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.
It is common in the US all year round but more frequently during winter and early spring. In fact, it has caused more than 5 million Americans to head to the nearest medical facility for outpatient services.
Strep throat requires prompt medical attention especially since children 5 to 15 years old are more likely to have strep throat than adults.
How do you know if you have it? Well, the only way to find out with a high degree of accuracy if you have strep throat is through a strep test.
Diagnosing strep throat with a strep test
If your doctor suspects that you have strep throat during the physical examination, a strep test is usually given to confirm the initial finding.
There are two kinds of strep tests – a rapid strep test and a throat culture test. Let’s take a look at both.
Rapid strep test
A rapid strep test can already show the results in as little as 15 minutes. It is done in your doctor’s office during a visit. A long and sterile cotton swab will be inserted in your mouth where the specimen will be collected at the back of your mouth and tonsils.
Although specimen collection is done very quickly, having the long cotton swab deep in your mouth usually causes reflex reactions such as coughing or gagging. This is normal in a strep throat test.
The specimen then undergoes rapid testing, with results coming back within 15 minutes. If the test results come back positive, then you are confirmed to have strep throat.
If the test results come back negative, your doctor may order a throat culture for double confirmation that you do not have strep throat. A second specimen is collected and is usually sent to a lab for additional testing to rule out false negatives. Waiting time for results to come back takes about two days.
Throat culture test
As mentioned above, the throat culture test is usually done after the rapid strep test results come out negative, but your doctor still suspects a strep throat infection.
Just like in COVID-19 testing where the RT-PCR is the gold standard, a throat culture is considered the gold standard in strep throat testing. A positive test result from throat culture is the final confirmatory test for strep throat, even if the rapid strep test came out negative.
Strep throat treatment in the form of antibiotics will be prescribed by your doctor to kill the group A strep bacteria.
When should you get a strep test?
Your throat feeling funny or scratchy may not necessarily indicate strep throat. However, if the soreness or pain in your throat has not abated after a few days and it is accompanied by the following strep throat symptoms, immediately schedule a consultation with your family physician.
- high fever
- reddened throat and tonsils with white or yellow patches or streaks of pus
- pain when swallowing
- tiny red patches on the roof of the mouth
- swollen lymph nodes on the front of the neck
Will a strep test diagnose a sore throat or other illnesses?
A strep test will only confirm the presence of group A strep, the bacteria that is causing your strep throat. Since a sore throat is caused by a viral infection and not bacteria, it cannot be detected through a strep test.
The same goes for other diseases caused by group A strep such as scarlet fever, impetigo, necrotizing fasciitis, cellulitis, streptococcal toxic shock syndrome, rheumatic fever, and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis. None of them can be diagnosed using the strep test.
What should I keep in mind during a strep test?
A strep test is a simple test that is best done at your doctor’s office or in any medical facility. Although at-home strep test kits are available, paying your doctor a visit is still the recommended course of action if you suspect that you have strep throat. In addition to the strep test, your doctor can do a thorough physical examination of the signs and symptoms of strep throat.
Do also take note that a strep test can also yield false-negative results. If you’re doing it at home using self-administered strep test kits, you might be happy that you got a negative result. But if you are still exhibiting signs and symptoms of strep throat, you will still have to see a doctor to rule out or confirm the diagnosis.
If you suspect you have strep throat, it is better to have the test immediately. This way, you can protect other members of your household who are at risk of acquiring strep throat through close and frequent contact.
How do I prepare for a strep test?
There is no preparation necessary for a strep test. Just drop by your doctor’s office for a visit. Your doctor will administer the strep test.
It’s that simple.
Of course, it might be best to call your doctor before going to their office and ask them for anything they may need from you. While the test itself may not need any special preparation, other necessary precautions such as wearing masks may be required.
What are the risks of a strep test?
Don’t worry. It is slightly invasive, yes, but overall, there are no major risks in having a strep test. As mentioned above, expect to feel some level of discomfort or pain when the long cotton swab is inserted deep into your mouth to collect a specimen.
If you need strep testing in Florida, come see us at Orlando Covid Test.
If you need a strep test in Orlando and are Googling “strep testing near me”, there’s no need to: Orlando Covid Test is where you should go. Our two locations offer rapid tests with results in just 10 minutes.
Our team of professional and experienced physicians and medical staff is here to provide you with the medical tests you need in a convenient, comfortable, and safe environment. We will do our best to keep you safe and calm.