Why Your Strep Throat Keeps Coming Back

March 14, 2018


You’ve probably had that scratchy, itchy feeling. The one that starts in the back of your throat and suddenly turns into a painful burning sensation. Some people say it’s like trying to swallow broken glass. Now that’s a pretty vivid description of the common sore throat and if you have ever had one that bad then you’re not likely to forget it. Usually, a simple sore throat will come along with some other symptoms, like a cough or runny nose and it will likely go away on its own in a few days. But what does it mean if it lingers? That can be a sign of the dreaded strep throat.

Sore or Strep?

The common sore throat is usually caused by irritation (like post-nasal drip) or a virus, so antibiotics aren’t going to do any good. Strep throat is caused by bacteria (group A streptococcus ), and the only way to find relief is to make an appointment to see your doctor or with a quick visit to your local American Family Care. But for some patients, usually children and teens, strep never goes away or it keeps coming back. That’s known as “recurring strep throat.”

Recurring Strep Throat

If you are diagnosed with strep throat more than seven times in a single year, then it’s likely your doctor will consider a tonsillectomy. But even after the surgery, some people still develop strep. Along with being painful, this can mean many days of missed school or work. So why does this happen?

  1. Antibiotic Resistance – Some forms of strep throat are resistant to the antibiotic that has been prescribed. Penicillin and cephalexin are the go-to antibiotics in the case of strep. If these don’t knock the bacteria out, your doctor will go a different route. Remember to take ALL of your prescribed antibiotics! Some patients will stop taking their medication after they start feeling better. This is a huge mistake. Don’t give the bacteria a chance to develop a resistance to your medication. Knock it out by completing your medication cycle.
  2. Weak Immune System – The strep bacteria is a formidable opponent. If you are in overall poor health or have a weakened immune system because of an underlying condition, then you are at risk of a recurrence.
  3. Hidden Carrier – They walk among us! There are many people who are actually carriers of the strep bacteria, even though they show no signs of having strep throat. It could be that someone you come into close contact with every day is a carrier.
  4. Dental Disinfecting – After a strep diagnosis (or any contagious illness!) you should toss out your toothbrush for a new one. But that alone might not be good enough. Make sure and disinfect your toothbrush holder as well or you may just pick the bacteria up again on your new toothbrush.

As the CDC points out, no one can diagnose strep throat just by looking at your throat. Instead, healthcare professionals use two tests to see if the strep bacteria are at the root of the problem. American Family Care can perform both the “rapid strep test” and a throat culture. As the name indicates, the “rapid strep test” is a quick swab of the back of your throat that gives results in minutes. That means treatment can begin quickly. A throat culture may be considered if a rapid test comes back negative, but your doctor still suspects strep.

The Right Care. Right Now.

Strep throat is painful. The good news is that most patients begin to see improvement shortly after treatment begins. American Family Care is committed to providing you with the right care, right now! A convenient visit, with thorough treatment and we’ll help you feel better in no time.


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