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strep-throat

Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat

Posted on Wed, Feb 10, 2016

Checking Sore Throat, Acute PharyngitisSore throats are common for people of all ages, and particularly in the cooler months as more people are in close contact indoors. Some cases are more problematic than others, especially those caused by bacterial infections. These must be treated promptly with antibiotics to prevent complications and ensure a speedy recovery. How do you know if your bout of acute pharyngitis is just scratchy and short-lived or something more, such as strep throat? Keep reading to discover common symptoms of both.

Causes and Symptoms of Acute Pharyngitis

Common reasons you might develop soreness or hoarseness include:
  • Dry weather
  • Allergies
  • Influenza
  • Other viral infections (such as colds)
  • Bacterial infections
Symptoms are varied but can include pain while swallowing, redness, headache, inflamed nasal passages, swollen tonsils and fever. More severe symptoms can include joint pain, swollen lymph node glands and skin rashes. Left untreated, ear infections or sinusitis could occur.

Treating a Sore Throat

Viral infections are very common and typically do not require medical attention. If your symptoms seem mild, you can treat soreness at home by drinking soothing liquids such as warm tea with honey. As a treat, fruit-flavored popsicles can also help soothe the area. Teenagers and adults can use cough drops or lozenges during the day, or over-the-counter pain medication to help manage symptoms. Winter weather often brings dry air, so consider setting up a humidifier or cool-mist vaporizer to keep the air moist. You can include a drop or two of an essential oil such as eucalyptus or lemon to further help open sinus passages. If your throat pain feels more severe or lingers more than few days, contact a medical professional to identify and treat the cause. In the meantime, try to get plenty of rest and drink more non-caffeinated fluids than usual to stay hydrated.

How to Tell if Your Sore Throat is Strep

Streptococcus is a highly contagious bacterial infection that develops following contact with an infected person. Unfortunately, the symptoms of strep are so similar to other cases of acute pharyngitis that a doctor will not be able to diagnose you without performing a rapid test or throat culture. Without a proper diagnosis, the doctor will not be able to issue antibiotics to treat a possible infection. However, your soreness could indicate strep if you experience a high fever, a rash or swollen lymph nodes in your neck. You should also contact a doctor when what seems like a typical sore throat does not go away after several days, or if you notice white streaks on the tonsils.

Seek Help Anytime: eMedical Urgent Care Walk-In Clinic

If you suspect you or a family member might have strep, visit eMedical Urgent Care walk-in clinic without delay. Our emergency medical physicians provide quick diagnoses and treatment options for both children and adults. We offer convenient hours at both of our locations to better serve your busy schedule and urgent needs. Call to learn more about our services in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey, (732) 957-0707.

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What's Causing Your Throat Pain?

Posted on Wed, Nov 25, 2015

Throat Pain | Urgent CareIs your throat sore? Does it hurt to drink? Considering the average person swallows about 50 times per minute, that’s - gulp - a lot of pain to tolerate. Throat pain symptoms can be acute: coming on suddenly and lasting several days or they can be chronic: lasting weeks or even months in some cases. In fact, according to the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, throat symptoms are one of the most common reasons people visit their doctors (ranking above high blood pressure, rashes and back problems). Throat pain can be confusing; so let’s take a look at some of the common causes below to see where your symptoms might fit in.

Causes of Throat Pain

Viruses (such as those that cause the common cold as well as mononucleosis) can lead to a sore throat, bacteria (such as those that lead to strep throat) can also cause a sore throat. Additionally, smoking, inhaling polluted air and allergens such as pet dander, pollens and molds can lead to throat pain.

Viral Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory infections (URI), such as the common cold, are caused by viruses and often lead to an irritated throat, nasal congestion, coughing, sneezing, and running heads.

Bacterial Infections

Tonsillitis

When your tonsils become infected by bacteria or a virus, it can cause them to swell, leading to symptoms such as a sore throat, white patches, fever, headache, pain when you swallow, and red and swollen tonsils.

Strep Throat

Streptococcal pharyngitis is a bacterial throat and tonsil infection. It's the cause of 15 to 40% of sore throats among children and 5 to 15% in adults. Unlike a cold, patients usually won’t experience sneezing, congestion or coughing with strep. If left untreated, it can sometimes result in kidney inflammation or rheumatic fever.

Mononucleosis

Mononucleosis (mono) is a viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. A sore throat is one of the main symptoms of mono and may last 1 to 4 weeks. Other symptoms of mono include swollen glands, fever, fatigue and headache.

Allergies

If you find that allergies (such as pollen, pet dander and dust) commonly trigger a sore throat, avoid those irritants at all costs. More than pain, patients will usually experience scratching or tickling in the throat.

Sore Throat Treatment

Your doctor will need to run tests such as a rapid strep test, throat culture or a blood test to determine the cause of your sore throat so you can get the right treatment right away. If your pain is caused by bacteria, you will most likely be prescribed an antibiotic and begin to feel better in a few days. Infections caused by viruses cannot be helped with antibiotics, unfortunately and the symptoms will usually just have to “run their course” for about 10 days.

Find At-Home Relief

Some people find throat pain relief by implementing some of these natural at-home remedies.
  • Rest up
  • Gargle with warm salt water (1 tsp of salt per 8 oz of water)
  • Use a humidifier in your bedroom
  • Drink hot tea with lemon and honey
  • Drape a towel over your head and breath in steam with a few drops of eucalyptus oil
  • Drink lots of hydrating liquids to prevent dehydration
  • While lozenges can help stimulate saliva, avoid those with lots of sugar
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol which can hinder your body’s ability to fight off infection and end up prolonging your sore throat

Preventing a Sore Throat

The best way to stay healthy and prevent contagious diseases is to regularly wash your hands and avoid touching your eyes, mouth and face.

Urgent Care for Throat Pain

When the symptoms of your sore throat last over a week and include a fever, difficulty swallowing, ear ache, or swollen glands, you should be evaluated by a medical professional at eMedical Urgent Care right away. After work, or on weekends, we‘re here. Our convenient walk-in hours are designed to fit your schedule. If you or your child becomes ill, don’t wait. Our experienced providers can diagnose and treat your urgent conditions quickly and expertly. Come see us for common illnesses, ailments, injuries and work-related issues. No appointment needed. Learn more about eMedical Urgent Care by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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Should I Bring My Child to a Walk In Clinic for the Flu?

Posted on Wed, Nov 18, 2015

Should I Bring My Child to a Walk In Clinic for the Flu?It’s pretty much a given that our children will pick up the flu at some point throughout the school year from all the coughing and sniffling students in their classrooms. So, how does a parent know when to bring their child into a walk-in clinic for the flu or a terrible cold? The flu and colds are both caused by viruses (not bacteria), so symptoms may last four or five days then you could be on your way to recovery. That said, both illnesses can morph into more serious conditions, including sinus infection, bronchitis, pneumonia, and strep throat. Drive to an eMedical Urgent Care walk in clinic near you if your child is experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • Persistent sinus pressure
  • Worsening sore throat
  • Cough followed by yellow or green phlegm
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Ear pain
  • High fever

Walk-In Clinic vs ER

Severe influenza problems are most common in children under 2 years. In addition, children with chronic health problems like asthma, diabetes and disorders of the brain or nervous system are at especially high risk of developing serious flu complications. How do you know when it’s better to go to an urgent care center versus the ER? Read more about the common emergency room and walk-in clinic differences on our recent blog post, “Walk-In Doctor’s Office vs ER [INFOGRAPHIC].”

Protect Yourself from the Flu Virus

Flu shots are your best protection against the flu epidemic. And because the influenza virus(es) changes every season, it’s important to get your child vaccinated every year. Take your child for regular check-ups and stay up to date on their immunizations. Protect yourself and your family; talk with the pediatric-trained doctors at eMedical Urgent Care about the benefits of getting the flu vaccine to keep your child healthy. In addition to getting vaccinated, you can do more to fight the flu with a few healthy steps.

How do you know if it’s the flu, food poisoning, allergies or the common cold?

Symptoms of the flu usually develop within two days of exposure, but a person can spread the virus before they begin to develop symptoms. The common cold is a respiratory illness that can be caused by many different viral infections. I's often confused with the flu. There is no cure for the common cold or for the influenza virus. There are, however, treatments available to lessen the severity of the symptoms. As a parent, how can you tell if your child is dealing with a bout of food poisoning or the onset of the flu? They both have very similar symptoms. A doctor at your local urgent care office should be able to help you determine from which he or she is suffering, but always assume your child contagious and take the proper precautions. It can also be difficult to differentiate between the common cold and allergies. Parents should be on the lookout for specific symptoms covered in our recent blog post, “Is Your Child Suffering from the Common Cold or Seasonal Allergies?

Get Medical Treatment Right Away

Most of our pediatric physicians are parents too, so we understand the importance of keeping our tiny humans happy and healthy. After school, or on weekends, we‘re here. Patients are seen on a walk-in basis without appointment. Our convenient hours are designed to fit your schedule. Learn more about our services and how we can treat you by calling our location in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey (908) 464-6700, or Middletown, New Jersey (732) 957-0707.

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Sore Throat Season: Is it Strep? Do I Need Antibiotics?

Posted on Thu, Nov 03, 2011

By eMedical Urgent Care You’ve tried to ignore it, but every swallow is a chore. You’ve got that big project at work, so there’s no time to be sick. How do you know when a sore throat requires medical attention – or just some hot tea and some R&R? Sore throat, also known as pharyngitis or tonsillitis, is a frequent complaint that brings patients to the urgent care center. I’m going to explain the causes and symptoms of sore throats. To treat them, urgent care centers are a convenient option to get the medical attention you need to get you back to feeling better. Causes of Sore Throats Up to 60 percent of sore throats are caused by viruses. The most common of these are adenoviruses, coxsackieviruses, Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegaloviruses and herpes simplex viruses. The second-most popular type is “strep” throat, which is caused by Streptococcus pyogenes or Group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GABHS). Only 5 to 15 percent of adults and 15 to 30 percent of children with sore throats actually have strep throat. Other less frequent causes of a sore throat are fungal infections (oral thrush or candidiasis), HIV-1 infection in the acute phase and gonorrhea. Non-infectious causes of sore throat include heartburn or gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies, post-nasal drip, chemical injuries and smoking. Symptoms of Strep Throat Strep throat most commonly occurs in children aged 5 to 15 years old in the fall and early spring. This usually happens after children come in contract with someone who is infected, like in a classroom or daycare facility, or a family gathering. Classic symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sudden onset
  • White patches and pus on the throat and tonsils
  • A fever greater than 101˚
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes in neck
  • Headache
  • Chills and shakes alternating with cold sweats
In children, the above symptoms can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting or abdominal pain. Symptoms of a Virus Signs that the sore throat is caused by a virus include:
  • Cough
  • Runny nose
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
  • Sneezing
Testing and Treatment of Sore Throats Doctors use several methods to determine if a sore throat is in fact strep throat. One of the most reliable methods is the rapid strep test. This test is quick and accurate, and allows treatment to start immediately following a positive result. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors perform both a traditional throat culture and a rapid strep test on children. Although it takes 1 to 2 days to get results from a throat culture, because children are more likely to develop strep throat, this dual-testing method provides the most accurate diagnosis. While only a fraction of adults and children with sore throats nationwide actually have GABHS bacterial infections, more than 75 percent are prescribed antibiotics. This practice leads to resistant bacteria, meaning the infection doesn’t improve because it’s gotten used to antibiotics, as well as side effects from treatment, including allergic reactions, diarrhea and yeast infections. Our doctors use rapid strep testing and throat cultures, and follow guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of GABHS set by the Infectious Disease Society of America. Strep throat responds well to penicillin. It can be given as a single dose injection or in pill form. Other prescription options include amoxicillin, cephalexin and azithromycin. To help relieve the pain and swelling of the throat, your doctor also may prescribe a single dose of dexamethasone, a steroid which is an anti-inflammatory, either by injection or by mouth. Strep Throat Shouldn’t Be Ignored GABHS pharyngitis will improve in a few days even if not treated with antibiotics, but we treat patients so that they feel better faster and are less contagious to others. If left untreated, strep throat can put you at risk for developing rheumatic fever, which can damage the heart valves. Another rare but serious complication is acute glomerulonephritis, an injury to the kidney, which can occur regardless of treatment. If you are on antibiotics and aren’t feeling better or if you’ve developed a rash, jaundice or abdominal pain, contact your doctor immediately, as this might indicate Epstein Barr virus or mononucleosis infection. In most cases, with proper evaluation and treatment, sore throats can be treated quickly and easily, often without antibiotics. If you need medical attention for a non-life-threatening illness or injury, eMedical Urgent Care is open during the evening hours to treat walk-in patients. If you have questions about medical conditions, download iTriage from the iTunes or Android Marketplace, or check out iTriageHealth.com for your healthcare answers.

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