Strep throat is a highly contagious bacterial infection that affects the respiratory system and makes it hard to eat, swallow or sleep. The bacteria are mainly transferred through contact with an infected person. There are more reported cases of strep throat during late winter to early spring. But if you are wondering whether you can protect yourself from this irritating condition, here are a few tips on ways to prevent strep throat.
How to Prevent Strep Throat
As indicated above, coming into contact with an infected person is the most common way to spread strep throat bacteria. Avoid touching a person you know or suspect is infected. Completely avoid touching them or anything they may have come in contact with. Also avoid sharing same spaces and close environment. Keep off especially for the first 48 hours if the person is on antibiotics because the patient is still infectious during this period. The most efficient way is to keep the patient inside their room. After the 48 hours are over, the patient is no longer contagious.
Research shows that there is almost a 50% chance of strep throat bacteria spreading to the neighboring household if there is a confirmed case in one house. So it is best to keep distance.
Stay indoors if you have strep throat. If a member of your family has been infected make sure they stay inside the house until they are no longer contagious. Keep your children from school or daycare if they have strep throat as well.
Disinfect objects by cleaning all the items that an infected person may have come into contact with in the house. Alternatively, you can disinfect specific rooms where the infected person had entered, for instance kitchen, living room and bedrooms. Make sure all the items are clean and disinfected to avoid spread of the infection. Also pay close attention to items such as cups, beddings, clothes and silverware.
Disinfect using an appropriate disinfecting liquid or soap and use boiling water to clean the items. Thoroughly wipe the surfaces as well. You can also use color friendly bleach on clothing items. Also use anti-bacterial spray on door handles and surfaces.
Not Sharing Is Caring
Not sharing utensils and other items is another way how to prevent strep throat. Set aside a plate, cup, cutlery and other related items for the patient to avoid contamination. Avoid sharing napkins, beddings and toys if the patient is a child.
Maintain High Standards of Hygiene
Keep your hands clean at all times. Wash your hands under running water using a suitable anti-bacterial soap. When washing your hands, do so for at least 15 seconds but no more than half a minute. Avoid washing for too long and don’t do it aggressively either.
Washing your hands vigorously may produce a counter-effect and actually catalyze the spread of bacteria. This is because the outer protective layer of the skin may be scrapped off leaving it vulnerable to infection.
Always carry hand-sanitizer with you for use in case you come into contact with an infected person. Wash your hands immediately you touch an infected person. Avoid rubbing your eyes, touching your nose and mouth until you sanitize your hands.
Practice proper sneezing and coughing etiquette. If you feel the need to cough or sneeze, simply raise your hands with your elbow arched towards your mouth and sneeze into it. Alternatively, sneeze into a tissue or handkerchief. These measures will help curb the spread of the infection significantly and are essential ways of how to prevent strep throat.
Strengthen Your Immunity
Eat plenty of fruits and juices to help boost your immunity. Citrus fruits are known to have a high amount of vitamin C which helps boost immunity. Make a point to eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and healthy fibers. Exercise regularly and drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated.
Strep throat is treated using antibiotics. After 48 hours of treatment with antibiotics, the infection is no longer contagious and you can freely come into contact with the patient.
More Tips for You
Avoid going to crowded spaces during later winter and early spring seasons.
Use a humidifier to keep the room moist. This will help prevent dryness and ease breathing especially for the patient.
Clean out cuts and bruises to avoid infection. Use an antiseptic to do the cleaning and wrap with a clean band aid.
Know the Signs and When to See the Doctor
Although it is better to know how to prevent strep throat bacteria, sometimes the damage may already be done and an infection occurs. Watch out for the following symptoms if you suspect a strep throat infection:
An irritated throat that starts suddenly
Pain when swallowing
Swollen lymph nodes at the neck below the jaws
Feeling nauseous and vomiting
Swollen tonsils which are painful with white patches indicating pus
If you notice any of the above it is prudent that you visit a doctor and have a test done. The above symptoms, however, do not necessarily mean that you are infected with strep throat. There are other viral infections that can present in the same way. It is also possible to show few or no symptoms at all and still have the infection or come into contact with a person who is infected but show no sign.
When to Seek Medical Attention
If you or a child has been infected, how to prevent strep throat may not be relevant. Consult a doctor in case of the following symptoms:
Constant fever for more than 24 hours. Watch out for fever above 101oF (38.3oC).
Swollen lymph nodes
Pain when swallowing due to sore throat
Difficulty in breathing
No improvement even after being on medication for 48 hours