Strep throat is a bacterial infection which often causes swelling of the tonsils, though it may infect areas such as the pharynx and occasionally the larynx. If a child has gone through surgery to remove the tonsils, he or she may still contract strep throat. In addition, not every child will be a candidate for a tonsillectomy. The surgery is typically advised only if the child has experienced recurring tonsillitis or strep throat over a year despite quick and proper medical treatment. There are several aspects which need to be taken under consideration before advising tonsillectomy for a child. Every surgery, including tonsillectomy, has a risk of post-operative bleeding. In the case of tonsillectomies, the risk is below five percent. There may also be complications related to anesthesia such as nausea and vomiting. Before considering a tonsillectomy, the child’s health should be thoroughly analyzed.
Strep throat is most common in children and teenagers, but it can affect anyone, regardless of age. The bacterium which causes the infection is Streptococcus pyogenes, a strain of Group A Streptococcus. It can be dormant for months in the nose and throat without symptoms. In the case of people who are immunocompromised, however, it can become virulent and multiply. This bacterium is able to cause impetigo, scarlet fever, and sore throats because of the M proteins found on its cell walls and the exotoxins it produces. The M proteins counteract the body’s defenses, and the exotoxins (Streptococcus pyogenes uses a kind known as superantigens) defend the bacteria against the body’s immune system.
Streptococcus pyogenes is transmitted either by direct contact or inhaling an infected person’s respiratory secretions. The incubation period, from when a person is exposed to the bacteria to when they first begin to show symptoms, lasts about two to five days. During this incubation period is when it is most likely this person may infect others.
The test for strep throat is often unpleasant, but it is important that the doctors confirm the diagnosis before beginning treatment. The first step of the test is to collect a culture of secretions from the throat. The culture is taken with a swab which resembles a large Q-Tip. It is common for the patient’s gag reflex to be activated while their throat is rubbed. The doctor’s office will have a kit where the secretions can be tested. The results from these tests are often available in about fifteen minutes. If the results are negative but the doctor believes strep throat symptoms are displayed, then treatment for strep throat may begin while the doctor sends the sample to a lab. This further testing may take around forty-eight hours.