Is it strep or just a sore throat?

Sore throats send a number of Americans to their doctors' offices for strep tests. However, according to The Boston Globe, only one in four patients who are tested for strep actually suffer from the condition.1 So, researchers from Boston Children's Hospital thought it might be time to better inform the public of what symptoms are associated with strep.

Most common signs
Strep can be caused by viruses, bacteria, allergens, environmental irritants as well as a number of other things. Along with the infection can come an abundance of symptoms, which require antibiotics for treatment. Some of the most common signs that you have strep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, include:2

  • achy body
  • fever
  • headache
  • nausea
  • pain when swallowing
  • rash
  • red and swollen tonsils
  • sore throat
  • small red spots on soft or hard palate
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • vomiting
  • white patches or streaks of pus on tonsils

Of course, a trip to the doctor can quickly determine the cause of your symptoms, but wouldn't you rather avoid leaving the house if you find out it's just a cold?

Strep app
Health care professionals from Boston Children's Hospital wanted to help patients decide whether or not they needed to take a trip to the doctor for a strep test. So, using a retrospective cohort study, they collected data from 71,776 patients who were 15 years and older who visited clinics from September 2006 to December 2008.3 Based on the symptoms reported and diagnosis reports, researchers believe they were able to narrow down which signs point to the need for a strep test.

Based on these findings, authors of the study would like to create an app that doctors can use to track strep trends. Since the infection can happen any time of year, this would provide patients with a resource to see if their symptoms are on par with what symptoms are trending. As a result, it is estimated that some 230,000 doctor visits could be avoided annually.

Medex Supply provides health care professionals with the necessary infection control supplies for treating strep and other viruses.

1 The Boston Globe, "Strep throat app could reduce doctor visits" November 6, 2013
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Is it strep throat?" October 15, 2012
3 Annals of Internal Medicine, "Participatory medicine: a home score for streptococcal pharyngitis enabled by real-time biosurveillance: a cohort study" November 5, 2013

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