Minor strep A infections
A throat infection usually passes without the need for medication.
To help relieve symptoms:
- use over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, such as paracetamol, to help control pain and fever
- avoid food or drink that is too hot, as they could irritate your throat
- avoid smoking and smoky environments
- gargle regularly with warm, salty water to help reduce any swelling or pain
Antibiotics are not recommended for most cases of throat infections as they will do little to speed up your recovery time and can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.
In addition, using antibiotics to treat minor ailments can make them less effective in the treatment of life-threatening conditions.
Antibiotics are usually only recommended if you are more vulnerable to the effects of a throat infection due to having a weakened immune system or a serious health condition such as heart disease.
In such a circumstance a 10-day course of a penicillin class of antibiotics is usually prescribed.
If you are prescribed an antibiotic, it is important to finish the course even if you feel better. If you are allergic to penicillin, another antibiotic called erythromycin may be used.
Impetigo can be treated using antibiotic cream.
Cellulitis is a more deep rooted type of skin infection, so it will require a course of antibiotic tablets.
Inner ear infection
Four out of five cases of inner ear infection clear up within a few days without the need for treatment.
Over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers, such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may be used to control the symptoms of inner ear infection (pain and fever). Aspirin should not be given to children who are under 16 years of age.
Antibiotics are not recommended for the reasons discussed above unless the symptoms are particualry severe or symptoms worsen with time.
If your symptoms of sinusitis do not resolve within seven days it is likely that your GP will prescribe you a short dose of antibiotics.
Over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin can be used to relieve a headache, high temperature and any facial pain or tenderness.
Invasive strep A infections (with the possible exception of pneumonia) are regarded as a medical emergency. Therefore, if you develop this type of infection, you are likely to be admitted to hospital. You may need to be placed in an intensive care unit (ICU).
The ICU will be able to help support any affected body function, such as breathing or blood circulation, while the medical staff will be able to focus on treating the infection.
The infection will be treated using intravenous antibiotics (injected directly into a vein). Intravenous antibiotics usually have to be given for between seven and 10 days.
If there is an identifiable source of infection, such as an infected wound, it has to be removed. This is known as source control.
Source control could involve:
- draining the pus from an infected wound
- surgically removing infected or dead tissue
Strep B infections
Health professionals use a preventative approach to deal with strep B infections. This means trying to identify babies who have an increased risk of being born with a strep B infection.
As a precaution, mothers of high-risk babies can be given antibiotics during their pregnancy. Alternatively, the baby can be given antibiotics shortly after birth.
Known risk factors that may mean you need to take antibiotics during pregnancy include:
- having given birth to a previous baby with a strep B infection
- if strep B is found in your urine during urine tests that were carried out for other purposes, such as checking if your bladder and kidneys were functioning normally
- if strep B is found during vaginal and rectal swabs that were carried out for other purposes, such as checking if you had an infection inside your vagina (vaginosis)
- if you have a high temperature during labour
- if you go into labour prematurely
- giving birth more than 18 hours after your waters have broken
If your baby develops a strep B infection after birth, they will need to be treated with intravenous antibiotics.