Causes of Strep Throat

Sore throat causes include infections or inflammation of the tonsils, larynx, pharynx or esophagus. Keep in mind that not every sore throat is a strep throat. If you have a runny or blocked nose, are coughing or sneezing, then you do not have a strep throat. Sore throats are also caused by viruses and in such instances there is no real need for medical treatment, as they clear up in a few days. The bacterium that causes strep throat is known as group A streptococcus. This bacterium is found in the throat and nose and accounts for the reason why a strep throat is contagious. These bacteria can spread through day to day activities like shaking hands, coughing, sneezing, and shared food and so on. The bacteria may contaminate objects or surfaces and can be picked up and transferred to one's mouth or nose. Infected persons will then experience symptoms such as fever, throat pain, and swollen tonsils and so on.

There are several strep throat risk factors and these include:

  • Age: A strep throat can affect anyone but children between the ages of 5-15 are more susceptible to such infections.
  • The Time of the Year: More people suffer from strep throats during early spring, late fall and winter.
  • Surroundings: The bacterium thrives when people are in close contact with each other. Certain social settings like family gatherings or environments like day care centers and schools fall into this category.
  • Personal Contact: Strep throat infection also spreads (as mentioned earlier from person to person) and can easily pass from one family member to another through contact with either saliva or nasal secretions.

Frequently asked questions
  1. Antibiotic Treatment of Children With Sore Throat; Jeffrey A. Linder, David W. Bates, Grace M. Lee, Jonathan A. Finkelstein, JAMA. 2005;294(18):2315-2322.doi:10.1001/jama.294.18.2315
  2. Center for Disease Control; July 17, 2005. Statement on GAS Disease.
  3. Hayes, C. and H. Williamson. July 17, 2005. Management of Group A Beta-Hemolytic Streptococcal Pharyngitis.