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Why Do I Keep Getting Strep Throat?

Strep throat is one of those illnesses that can strike again and again, leaving you with a painful sore throat, fever, swollen tonsils, and other unpleasant symptoms. Strep throat currently accounts for about 30% of sore throats in children and 5-15% of sore throats in adults.

Most sore throats are viral (caused by a virus) and accompanied by symptoms like coughing and nasal congestion. But strep throat is a bacterial infection of the tonsils and throat that’s both highly contagious and airborne.

If you can’t seem to shake strep throat, you’re not alone. Keep reading to learn some of the reasons your strep throat keeps coming back.

You’re coming in contact with a hidden carrier

When someone has strep throat and is experiencing symptoms, they are contagious. However, it’s possible to have strep throat without symptoms, like a sore throat or fever, and still be contagious to others. That said, you might be interacting with someone who doesn’t know they have strep throat.

Strep bacteria travels via respiratory droplets, moving from person to person with ease. All it takes is one touch, one cough, or one sneeze – and boom, you’re infected.

Strep throat is highly contagious during the incubation period (2-5 days after a person is infected and before symptoms appear) and stays contagious until symptoms resolve, leaving a wide window for infecting others.

You have unhealthy habits

There are many unhealthy habits that can make you more susceptible to strep throat, including:

  • Not washing your hands: Washing your hands, especially before eating or preparing food, is often the most effective way to prevent the spread of strep throat. If you touch a person, object, or surface infected with strep bacteria and wash your hands quickly enough, it can help you avoid infection. Never rub your eyes, mouth, or nose unless your hands are clean.
  • Smoking or vaping: Smoking or vaping can harm your body in many ways, but the biggest impact is usually on your throat and lungs. If you’re a frequent smoker or vaper, you may have a sore throat more often. Chemicals in the smoke can irritate the delicate tissues that line your throat, causing you pain. Smoking or vaping can also weaken your immune system, making you more prone to strep throat and other infections.
  • Mold: Mold is a fungus that grows in damp, humid environments. If your home, workplace, or school contains mold, strep throat may not be far behind. While mold does not directly cause strep throat, it can weaken your immune system and irritate your throat – both of which encourage the additional growth of bacteria.

You’ve become resistant to antibiotics

Someone who only has a sore throat (or no symptoms at all) and tests negative for strep throat usually does not need antibiotics. Taking antibiotics needlessly can build up antibiotic resistance in your body over time.

Two popular antibiotics, penicillin, and amoxicillin, work well for most strep patients. But antibiotic resistance can make them less effective – and make you more vulnerable to reinfection.

If you’re prescribed antibiotics, be sure to finish the entire script, even if you start feeling better. Strep bacteria could still be present in your body and continue multiplying, resulting in reoccurring symptoms, the need for more medication, and a longer recovery time.

You touch surfaces where bacteria linger

Scientific research confirms that bacteria can linger on surfaces for extended periods of time. At a daycare center, researchers found that four out of five stuffed animals and several surfaces (including cribs) tested positive for the bacteria that causes strep throat. The testing was conducted many hours after the last human contact.

Use caution with shared objects like furniture, toys, and books. And some things just aren’t meant for sharing – never use another person’s toothbrush or eating utensils.

Where to get a strep throat test

All vybe urgent care centers offer rapid strep tests. If the rapid test is negative, a vybe clinician will determine if your throat culture needs to be sent to the lab based on your symptoms and other criteria. Throat cultures are more accurate but take 2-4 days to receive results.

If you test positive for strep throat, a vybe clinician will prescribe you antibiotics to treat your strep throat. Antibiotics are not prescribed for someone who has a sore throat and tests negative for strep throat.

It’s best to get tested as soon as symptoms start, so your treatment can begin immediately. Strep throat does eventually go away on its own without treatment, but you’ll be contagious longer and at a higher risk for complications.

Visit vybe today

The licensed medical professionals at vybe have a wide range of healthcare knowledge. Walk in or schedule an appointment at your local vybe urgent care to get tested for strep throat today.