Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial throat infection most common between the ages of 5 and 15. However, it affects people of all ages, especially if they have a weak immune system. If left untreated, the strep bacteria can cause serious complications such as rheumatic fever and kidney inflammation. The main symptoms are high fever, a sudden sore throat, swollen, sore glands in the neck and red or white patches on the throat. The standard treatment involves the use of antibiotics and symptom relievers. Because the antibiotics are harmful to the good bacteria found in your throat and body, you must protect yourself and prevent this illness. The best way to do that is by knowing what increases your risk of getting strep throat. Below are the main risk factors:
What increases your risk of getting strep throat most is a young age. Children between the ages of 5 and 15 are more susceptible to strep throat. This illness is less common among adults, and for an unknown reason, children under 3 years of age are the least prone to getting infected.
Time of year
Strep throat tends to circulate in the colder seasons, although it can occur anytime of the year. Most people suffer from strep throat during winter, late fall and early spring. Outbreaks occur most often during the school year, when large groups of children are gathered in close quarters.
The strep bacteria easily spread through contact with an infected person. You can get infected from shaking hands, kissing, eating from the same plate or drinking from the same glass as the sick person. Strep throat can pass through the nasal secretions and saliva if a person does not cover his or her mouth while sneezing or coughing.
Exposure to irritants
Exposure to irritants such as cigarette smoke is another risk factor. The smoke irritates the throat tissue, making you more susceptible to the bacteria. Moreover, it can even prolong the course of the disease. Try to avoid breathing other people’s smoke and stop smoking yourself, especially in colder seasons.
Sick family members
Knowing what increases your risk of contracting this illness can also protect your family. If there is a sick family member who has been diagnosed with strep throat, there is a high chance someone in the family will get it also. Besides the fact that the bacteria spreads through direct contact with the droplets from a infected person, a person can get it from infected objects such as door knobs and tables. If someone in your family has strep throat, avoid using the same eating utensils and limit the contact as much as possible. After 24 hours of antibiotic treatment, the disease is no longer contagious.
Because the strep throat thrives when people are in close contact, certain surroundings and social settings such as gay care centers, hospitals, schools and family gatherings make it easier for the bacteria to spread. Nursing homes, playgrounds, dormitories or open offices are also high-risk surroundings. Being aware of what increases your risk of getting infected can help you limit exposure.