Strep throat is an infection in the throat and the tonsils. The throat becomes irritated and inflamed which causes a sudden, serious sore throat. It is caused by bacteria called streptococcus (strep), also referred to as group A strep. There are several forms of strep bacteria. Some cause more severe disease than others. A sore throat, during pregnancy, doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got strep throat. Various allergies and other infections can quickly cause your throat to swell and irritate.
How strep throat affects pregnant women
When you are pregnant, you become more prone to illness, as you are more vulnerable to infection, like viruses. Your immunity level is also slightly lower during pregnancy. But the infection is not the only cause for all sore throats. You must get it examined with your doctor if you have a fever, along with a sore throat, or if it is severe and lasts longer than three days.
If untreated, it may cause further complications like pneumonia, rheumatic fever, or kidney inflammation. Rheumatic fever may further lead to inflamed and painful joints, or can even damage the heart valve.
In pregnant women, the signs of strep throat are the same as in non-pregnant women. Most people who get a strep throat develop a fever and often see red spots or white lines in the back of the throat. To allow your body and the medicine to fight the infection, you need extra rest. Pregnant women might take a few additional days for the body’s energy levels to come back to normal.
Dr Irem Eda Gokdemir, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, at 7 Dimensions Medical, explains more about strep throat during pregnancy:
Symptoms of strep throat during pregnancy
Symptoms of a strep infection during pregnancy may include, painful throat, difficulty eating and swallowing, fever, headache, fatigue, red and swollen tonsils, scratchy throat, loss of appetite, swollen lymph nodes and some other symptoms may include nausea, breathing problems, and stomach pain. You need not experience every symptom mentioned above. But if you have a couple of them, it’s worth talking to your doctor. A simple test or throat culture may confirm your suspicions if you have strep throat. Especially during pregnancy, a regular visit to your doctor is very crucial.
In most cases, people don’t usually get a cough with strep throat. This is one differentiating factor between this type of infection and the common cold.
Strep throat is a bacterial infection of the throat caused by a specific type of bacteria and is highly contagious. It can be easily passed from one human being to another. When someone with a sore throat coughs or sneezes, they create airborne droplets that contain the bacteria. If you inhale these droplets, you are most likely to catch an infection. Sharing utensils, food, drinks, and a handshake may also spread the bacteria. If in the same household, someone develops the symptoms, there are high chances for others to get infected.
The bacteria can also survive on surfaces such as doorknobs, and then can be easily transferred to your nose or mouth from your hand. If you have a repeat occurrence of strep throat, someone in your family might be a strep carrier. A strep carrier is a person who tests positive but does not have any symptoms. Usually, they don’t need antibiotics, yet it is good to treat them to avoid the spread of bacteria.
Treatments for strep throat during pregnancy
Strep throat is treated with antibiotics, which kill the bacteria that are causing the infection. The most popular antibiotics to treat strep throat are amoxicillin, cephalexin, and penicillin. Medicines need to be monitored closely during pregnancy.
You must visit a certified clinic to get it diagnosed and strictly follow the doctor’s instructions about the dosage. An overdose can do more harm than good, both to the mother and the child. Infection is likely to reoccur due to an insufficient dosage of antibiotics, which again might be harmful. It is imperative to finish the antibiotic course to kill the bacteria completely and prevent a relapse.
Home remedies and preventive measures for strep throat during pregnancy may help you to relieve pain and aches caused by strep throat. However, you must consult your doctor before taking any over-the-counter medicine during pregnancy. Some tips to reduce the discomfort are:
- Warm salt water gargle relieves the throat pain. Adding a pinch of turmeric to hot water might also prove to be beneficial.
- Often cold beverages aggravate a sore throat. Avoid, or even stop consuming cold drinks.
- Various herbal teas can act as natural pain relievers to help alleviate your throat’s soreness. Green tea, honey tea, and chamomile tea are some options.
- Consume enough fluids to keep your body hydrated during pregnancy. This also reduces the risk of infections.
- Citrus fruit juices often irritate the throat, avoid them.
- As your body is fighting an infection, you might feel exhausted. Take adequate rest during pregnancy.
- Wash your hands frequently, especially before cooking and eating, after using the restroom, coming home from outdoors, etc.
- Cover your nose and mouth while you cough or sneeze.
- Some throat lozenges contain menthol, which gently numbs the tissue in your throat. This may provide you temporary relief from pain and burning sensations.
- Use a humidifier to keep the air moist. Breathing in moist air might help soothe swollen tissue in your throat and nose.
Dr Irem Eda Gokdemir, Obstetrician and Gynecologist, at 7 Dimensions Medical, adds "In most cases, the symptoms diminish within a day or two after starting the antibiotics. As long as you complete the entire course of medicine, you may not have any complications and feel better in a week. But if your sore throat hasn’t improved, even after taking the antibiotics for two continuous days, it is advisable to speak to your doctor or visit a clinic.
"People may have strep throat more than once. If you have had it before, it doesn’t prevent you from catching it again. Following good hygiene and taking preventive measures can protect you and others. If your symptoms are severe, the earlier it is diagnosed, the sooner you can start the treatment. That’s the best way to prevent complications and reduce the symptoms”.