About Strep Throat: The Facts
Strep throat is the most common of bacterial infections, accounting for about 15% of all sore throats that get diagnosed in the doctor's office. It's most common in children, but many adults get strep throat too. It's called "strep" throat because the bacterium that causes it belongs to the class known as group A streptococcus. The initials GAS are sometimes used, and doctors may talk about a GAS throat infection.
Sore throat is one the leading complaints that brings people to the doctor's office, and about 40% of sore throats are treated with antibiotics in Canada. In fact, fewer than half of the people given antibiotics actually have bacterial infections. Most of the rest have viral infections that are untouched by antibiotics. Antibiotics can be bad for you, killing harmless bacteria that may be keeping dangerous bacteria out of your intestines. A wise parent will learn to distinguish viral and bacteria infections, to avoid unnecessary antibiotic use. And a wise patient will not press a doctor for antibiotics when the doctor says they aren't needed.