Strep Throat

Antibiotics are *not* required if you have strep throat. I know, I know, but that’s a myth. On average antibiotics shorten the duration of strep throat by only 4 hours. That’s not a lot, though maybe it feels like it when you have strep. We give antibiotics for strep in this country (the USA) to prevent rheumatic heart disease. England has decided NOT to do this. England thinks that more people were hurt by antibiotics than were helped by avoiding rheumatic heart disease. (Notably, antibiotics do *not* prevent the kidney disorders that can be caused by strep.)

For fun, here is one way medical people decide if they will test you for strep or not.(they’re called the ‘centor criteria’) you get one point for each criterion you meet…

tonsillar exudate (white junk on your tonsils, which are the blobs in-between the columns in the back of your mouth)

absence of cough

Fever (temp over 100.3 as measured by a thermometer)

tender swollen neck lymph nodes

age under 15 add one point, age over 44 subtract one point.

4 or 5 points and you are reasonably likely to have strep.  If you have a -1, 0, or a 1 you dont even need a strep test.

About tonsil removal- it lessens the possibility of getting strep but does not totally prevent it. It’s worth thinking about having your tonsils out if you have had more than 7 cases of strep (WITH a positive strep swab by a medical person each time) in one year (365 days), OR 5 cases in two consecutive years (here again with positive strep swabs), or 3 in 3 years with swabs.  So, if you get strep 5 times this year but only 3 times last year and none the year before you don’t need your tonsils out, even though your luck absolutely sucks.



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