Tuesday, August 26, 2003

I need sympathy

It started Friday, with a sore ear. I put it down to the long flight back, followed by a taxi ride with all the windows and me unable to find the mechanism to wind my window up. Saturday morning one side of my throat was a little sore, and it hurt to swallow. No problems I thought, just a consequence of this little ear problem. By Saturday night i knew something wasn't quite right when it took me 40 minutes to eat my dinner - just some pasta. But hey, it was Saturday night, nothing was going to get in my way of a good time. And when I was out, my throat felt fine (probably to do with I was drinking blended drinks through a straw, direct cold liquid onto my tonsils).

Sunday I woke up with both side of my throat all swollen, and when I looked at my tonsils they were all white. Yuk. I spent most of the day in bed, just sleeping, only getting up to drink some water. I did try my mothers cure all of hot water with lemon and honey, but I was not so ill it didn't amke me feel sick!

I went to the doctors today, and I have what is called 'strep throat'. Now, until I came to America I had never heard of this. As a child I was always getting sore throats, and it was put down to tonsilitis. In America, every sore throat seems to be put down to strep throat.

So, with the internet at my fingertips, I have investigated what strep throat is, and here we go -

What is going on in the body?

Strep throat is the most common of the many infections that are caused by group A streptococci, or GAS. The bacteria that causes strep throat makes a toxin that results in an infection in the throat and tonsils. A person can develop symptoms of strep throat from 1 to 6 days after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms in up to 40% of children may be too mild to diagnosis. Up to 20% of school-aged children may be carriers of the bacteria. These children will show no symptoms but can transmit strep throat to others.

A sore throat accompanied by fever is caused by a virus 70% of the time. Without treatment, uncomplicated viral infections usually subside within 3 to 10 days after onset. Strep throat is more significant because of the increased incidence of complications.

What are the signs and symptoms of the disease?

The following are symptoms of strep throat:   sore throat that starts suddenly, without runny nose or congestion   "fiery" red throat   painful swallowing   white patches on the tonsils   swollen lymph nodes in the neck   fever, with a temperature of 101 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or 38.3 to 40 degrees celsius   headache   loss of appetite   fatigue

What are the causes and risks of the disease?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that is usually spread by person-to-person contact through coughing or sneezing. Exposure to a person who has untreated strep throat may pose a risk for acquiring this infection. A person may be a carrier of the strep bacteria without having symptoms.

So, there you go. I knew I had a sore throat, it was hard to swallow, i had white patches on my tonsils, swollen glands in my neck, temperature (although that seems to have gone down now), headache, loss of appetite and fatigue. Mind you, I seem to suffer from fatigue a lot. Like all the time. So maybe that doesn't count.

Anyway, the doctor has prescribed antibiotics. These tablets are the size of horse tablets. I mean - they are 3/4 inch long, maybe 3/8 inch wide. Don't these people know I have trouble swallowing? And the best thing is when you get a prescription here in America they always print off this page long warning about your medication. And, I have to stop taking the tablets if I have a sore throat. How can I tell which is the sore throat I need the tablets for? And which is the one I need to stop taking the medicine for? The wonders of modern science.....

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