Why do they only look for strep throat?

  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Sep 19, 2007 7:04 PM GMT
    Two weeks ago I had a bad sore throat and as this is something that I get regular I asked the doctor to swab my throat.

    I phoned him to day for results. Nothing showed up.

    He told me the only thing they look for is strep throat.
    So I don't have strep throat. What do I have?

    My question is why do they only look for strep throat?

    Why don't they look for everything and find out what it was?

    Mike
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    Sep 19, 2007 7:40 PM GMT
    I would guess it's because strep is caused by bacteria and is therefore treatable with antibiotics. They probably figure if it's not strep, it's a virus, and the only thing to do then is let it run its course. Not much point in testing for that which isn't treatable. Again, that's just a guess...
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Sep 19, 2007 8:07 PM GMT
    You think they would check anyway. Maybe it could be prevented if they knew what it was.

    Thanks for the reply paradox.
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    Sep 19, 2007 8:24 PM GMT
    ...maybe cost of additional tests....if you have any idea that it might be more (clap?), you should tell the dr
  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Sep 19, 2007 8:45 PM GMT
    Additional tests usually mean additional swabs... and multiple throat swabs can be a real pain to collect. Sometimes they may even be going to different labs for the various tests, or one lab may take different amounts of time to test a swab for one thing versus another (especially STD tests).
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Sep 19, 2007 8:45 PM GMT
    Knowing our health system I think you are right. It is all about money.
  • MikePhilPerez

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    Sep 19, 2007 8:49 PM GMT
    imaxim,

    I hope you are not suggesting I have a STD?

    :-)
  • imaxim

    Posts: 94

    Sep 19, 2007 8:55 PM GMT
    lol, well I was looking at the post above (about the 'clap') when I wrote that. however, the only things I can ever recall needing throat swabs for were strep and clap (it was strep ;)
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    Sep 19, 2007 9:01 PM GMT
    I agree with paradox answer.

    If you suffer of sore throat regularly you shouldn't leave the dr off the hook....make him/her try to find out what's going on, I don't think having sore throats regularly is normal. Get involve in your treatment.
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Sep 19, 2007 9:05 PM GMT
    It was me that made him swab it. So what should I do now?
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    Sep 19, 2007 9:10 PM GMT
    are you asking should you go back to be swabbed for throat clap?
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    Sep 19, 2007 9:11 PM GMT
    I would go back and say...listen, I keep getting this sore throat, something has to be going on in there...are you going to try to find out what's going on...if he/she says no, go to another dr.

    I'm a firm believer of second / third opinions....


    my boyfriend suffers of sore throats and he has expirience the same thing you have....the last dr he say says he might have to have his tonsils taken out...
  • MSUBioNerd

    Posts: 1813

    Sep 19, 2007 9:17 PM GMT
    As a pure anecdote, I used to wake up with sore throats regularly. Two things which helped them go away:
    Upping my water intake so I didn't dehydrate as much (though I began have the other issues of waking up with the need to go hit the bathroom quickly).
    No longer living in the same house with a smoker.
    As for why they only test for strep--most other throat infections in people with healthy immune systems will probably be viral (though as I'm not a medical doctor, I base this solely from my general microbiology knowledge). Strep throat can be treated with antibiotics; most viruses your treatment regime is basically treat the symptoms and hope the body clears the infection given enough time. But if this is happening regularly, I'd find a doctor who takes you seriously and looks beyond the throat itself to see if this is a symptom of something elsewhere; in your diet, perhaps, or something in your blood.
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Sep 19, 2007 9:34 PM GMT
    When I was a kid they though I would have to get my tonsils out, but I still have them.
  • MikemikeMike

    Posts: 6932

    Sep 19, 2007 10:16 PM GMT
    Having a persistent sore throat is not normal. You should see a qualified eye ear nose and throat doc. If you don't tell them about your sexual activity they will never test for more than strep.

    Hope all is well.

    mike3
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    Sep 19, 2007 10:21 PM GMT
    Quite a lot of bacteria show up on the throat swab culture. Most of them belong in your throat normally. What the lab tech has to do is pick out something that looks abnormal. Not very many organisms can actually be identified in this way. And a lot of it depends on the skill of the lab tech. Then the doctor has to figure out if that tentative identification matches your symptoms.
    Of the organisms that usually cause throat infections, Streptococcus and Candida stand out in these cultures because they make a dramatic color change on the petri dish and/or they have a distinctive shape under the microscope.
    The organisms that cause things like Gonorrhea, Diptheria and Whooping Cough will also show up, but to positively identify them takes further tests. If you aren't showing symptoms for those diseases, they probably won't do the test.

    Anyway, the value is kind of iffy. When we do this test in class, about 5 to 10 percent of healthy students have a positive throat swab for hemolytic strep, so it's hard to say what the test even means. In the 90's the medical center that I went to would always hand out antibiotics without testing, so I started checking my own throat swab when I was sick. If I had a positive test, then I'd go get some antibiotics.
    More recently, I had a weird case of thrush and the doctor had some smears done. A couple of days later, I received a phone call saying they'd lost my sample and could I come give another. Then another call saying, "never mind - it's negative." Suspicious, I went out to the lab and did my own damn smear. It was positive. I took color photos and took them to the doctor and got treated. The lab still billed my insurance $400 for ten minutes work that they didn't even do, then lied about.
  • MikePhilPerez

    Posts: 4357

    Sep 19, 2007 10:46 PM GMT
    When I say regular sore throat, I mean a bad one one or two times a year, that I have to see the doctor for, but I have some not so bad ones in between.

    MikemikeMike, My doctor knows I am gay, so should I explain what gay guys do :)

    Anyway, I used to get them before I ever had any kind of sex. Also the only guy I have ever been with is my partner, and I am the only guy he has ever been with. I don't think it is an STD.


    mindgarden, Thanks for all that info. Very interesting.

    Thanks everyone.

    Mike
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    Sep 20, 2007 1:21 AM GMT
    Yeah, once or twice a year is not a big deal Mike. Most sore throats are viral, of which there are literally thousands, and they keep changing, and not good treatment, so no point in testing for them.

    Strep is bacterial and easy to treat plus there are few rare, but serious, problems that can develop from an untreated strep infection -- rheumatic fever and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis (problem with your kidneys) being that main ones. So there is good reason to treat a strep infection and therefore reason to test for it. There are of course multiple other bacteria that live in your throat and cause you no problems, and yes when they come up in a culture the question is what to do with them.

    And of course other things like allergies can give you a sore throat as well -- particularly when you have a runny nose and it drains down the back of your throat as often happens.
  • EricLA

    Posts: 3461

    Sep 20, 2007 4:37 AM GMT
    A couple of things, not connected. First, you could have sleep apnia or just snore in your sleep. I get these from time to time, but what helped reduce them is Breath Right strips. I snore less at night and get better, more restful sleep.

    Second, are you open with your Dr. about your sexual orientation? If not, you should be. I dated a guy once who gave me a sexually transmitted disease. He had been told by the guy he'd previously dated that he had contracted something and should get tested. The doctor, who had a primarily straight practice, didn't think to test my partner's throat. So, his test came up negative. I was out to my docotor, but he too had a straight and primarily older practice, and couldn't remember how to treat said sexually transmitted disease, and had to spend some time on the phone with the pharmacist to figure out what the treatment was. I quickly switched to a doctor with a primarily gay practice who was familiar with what was going around in the community.

    I'm not saying you have a sexually transmitted disease, but if you are out to your doctor, that might be one place he might check for things other than strep throat.
  • OutOfEden

    Posts: 100

    Sep 20, 2007 5:02 AM GMT
    If it's Viral then they can't treat it. If you think you got something from oral sex you need to let the doctor know that it's a possibility.

    Go to a place that has indian spices (not most grocery stores) and buy Fenugreek seeds. Boil a tablespoon or so in 2-3 cups of water for a few minutes, let the water cool off until it is just warm, then gargle it and spit it out. It won't hurt you to swallow it but it tastes awful, kind of like earth and bark. Your throat will immediately stop being swollen and the soreness will be gone the next day.

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    Sep 20, 2007 5:26 AM GMT
    I assume you've ruled out rigorous fallacio as the cause.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Sep 20, 2007 5:46 AM GMT
    Actually strep throat will go away within 3 to 7 days with or without antibiotics, but can lead to other disorders. Besides just getting rheumatic fever, the disease can lead to mitral valve stenosis. This can result in heart complications down the road such as heart failure, stroke, blood clots, and various others. Just having a sore throat is a minor illness. Most sore throats are due to drainage from the sinuses. This mostly results from allergies and sinus infections. Acid Reflux and some viral infections are causes as well but they usually are accompanied with other symptoms. Also besides that, tonsillitis is usually the other agent that can result in throat irritation.
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    Sep 20, 2007 5:49 AM GMT
    OH and ways to prevent such throat soreness by using a humidifier, throat lozenges, decongestants, allergy medicines, avoid smoke/smoking, and drink lots of fluids! :)
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    Sep 20, 2007 1:21 PM GMT
    could just be a really bad cold thats been going around everywhere it seems lately. Last week like everyone here had the siffles of some sort. Allergies maybe that went out of control? that is usually what triggers my soar throats and the beginning of an infection of sorts. I had my tonsils taken out too so might be something to look at.
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    Sep 20, 2007 1:41 PM GMT
    they test for strep because its HIGHLY contagious and want to nip it in the bud right away...strep can lead to a lot of other things if not treated...its prevalent in the education system and being a dad with kids....Im WELL versed on strep throat...UGH!!!!!

    Be glad its not step.

    If it gets worse though....Go back to your doctor...and hope to god its not MONO...that is the sickest Ive ever been in my life...and the sorest throat you will ever have!!!