Diagnostic Interventions To Rule Out Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by a bacterial organism known as group A streptococcus. A bacterial strep throat and a sore throat caused by a viral infection can cause very similar symptoms so it is important to get a correct diagnosis because their treatments differ. See your doctor immediately if you believe you may have strep throat. A prompt diagnosis and antibiotic therapy will help ensure a complete resolution of the infection and may help prevent its spread to other parts of the body. Here are some diagnostic testing interventions your doctor may provide to confirm or rule out a strep infection of the throat.

Physical Examination And Medical History

Your doctor will ask you about your symptoms which may include a severe sore throat, fever, chills, muscle pain, headache, and loss of appetite. Strep throat also can cause a bad taste in your mouth, difficulty swallowing, and a feeling like there is a lump in your throat. 

After taking your medical history, your doctor will perform a physical examination. They will examine your throat for redness, swelling, and pus pockets. If pus pockets or white or yellow spots are present in your throat or on your tonsils, a bacterial infection, possibly strep, may be present.

Throat Culture

Your family care doctor will also take a throat culture to determine if your sore throat is caused by the bacteria group A streptococcus. During the test, the doctor will swab various areas of your throat and then after a few minutes, you will get the results. This type of throat culture is called a rapid strep test and it is typically very accurate.

It is important to note that in order for your physician to get enough material on the culture swab they may need to brush your tonsils and your lower throat with the swab. This can cause mild gagging sensations, however, it only lasts for a few seconds and you will recover quickly.

If your throat culture reveals a strep A infection, your physician will write you an antibiotic prescription. If your doctor determines that you have a viral infection as opposed to bacterial strep throat, antibiotics will probably not be prescribed because they do very little to treat viral infections. 

If you develop any of the above symptoms, see your healthcare provider right away. When strep throat is treated early on you may be less likely to develop complications such as septic arthritis and heart problems such as rheumatic fever and bacterial infection-related heart valve problems. 

For more information, contact a doctor near you.