Probiotics for Strep Throat: Does it work?

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Strep throat is caused bacterial infection that can negatively affect the throat and tonsils. Fortunately, Oral Probiotics is a beneficial approach for strep throat prevention. In this article, we will explore how probiotics for strep throat work?

What is strep throat?

Probiotics for strep throat - Streptococcus

Strep throat, also known as streptococcal pharyngitis, is a common bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils. It is caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes, also known as group A Streptococcus which is highly contagious and can easily spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Strep throat is most commonly seen in children and adolescents, but it can also affect adults. 

The symptoms of strep throat typically include a severe sore throat, difficulty swallowing, white patches or spots on the tonsils, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, fever, headache, and fatigue. Some people may also experience nausea, vomiting, or a rash. The severity of symptoms can vary, with some cases presenting mild symptoms and others causing more severe discomfort. 

Although strep throat is not typically considered a serious illness, it can lead to more serious health complications if left untreated or if complications arise. In some cases, the infection can spread to other parts of the body, such as the tonsils, sinuses, ears, or skin, leading to more serious infections such as tonsillitis, sinusitis, otitis media, or cellulitis

Strep throat vs. Sore throat: What are the differences?

Sore throat and strep throat are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. While both conditions involve discomfort and pain in the throat, they are caused by different underlying factors. Sore throat, also known as pharyngitis, is a general term used to describe inflammation and discomfort in the throat. It can be caused by various factors, such as viral infections (e.g., cold, flu), bacterial infections (e.g., sinusitis), environmental factors (e.g., dry air, pollution), or even excessive voice use or throat irritation.

Probiotics for strep throat - Spreading disease

On the other hand, strep throat is a specific type of sore throat caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. Unlike sore throat, which can be caused by various factors, strep throat is specifically caused by a bacterial infection.  

​​The presence of a cough is a prominent symptom that distinguishes sore throat from strep throat. Strep throat typically does not cause coughing, so if you’re experiencing a cough, it’s unlikely to be strep throat. Additionally, when examining the throat of someone with a sore throat caused by a cold virus, you usually won’t see pus or exudate at the back of the throat

When it comes to treatment, sore throat is typically managed with self-care measures, such as staying hydrated, resting, avoiding irritants like smoking or exposure to dry air, and using over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. On the contrary, strep throat usually requires medical intervention and treatment with antibiotics to eliminate the bacterial infection.  

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Causes and how to prevent strep throat?

Strep throat is highly contagious and it spreads from person to person through close contact with an infected person’s saliva or nasal secretions. This can happen when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks, sending droplets into the air, which can be inhaled by others. It can also be contracted by touching a surface contaminated with the bacteria and then touching your mouth or nose, or by sharing utensils, food or drinks with a person who is infected.

Probiotics for strep throat - Contagious

Strep throat is most common in children aged between 5 and 15 years, but it can affect people of all ages. The risk of getting strep throat increases in certain situations such as:

  1. Being in close contact with someone who has strep throat.
  2. Living in crowded conditions such as dormitories, military barracks or prisons.
  3. Having a weakened immune system due to other illnesses or medications.
  4. Exposure to cigarette smoke or pollution.

To prevent strep throat, it is important to practice good hygiene. This includes washing your hands frequently with soap and water, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Additionally, it is important to avoid sharing utensils, cups, and other personal items with others.

Probiotics for strep throat - Washing hands

You can also boost your immune system by eating a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, getting enough sleep, and staying physically active. It is also recommended to avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, as smoking can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of infections.

Probiotics for strep throat - Heathy diet

Antibiotics are typically prescribed to treat strep throat, as they can help reduce the severity and duration of the illness and prevent complications. However, if you’re looking for natural remedies to help support your immune system and overall health, probiotics for strep throat may be a helpful addition to your treatment plan. 

Probiotics for strep throat - Antibiotics

Streptococcus salivarius K12 – Probiotics for strep throat prevention:

Studies have demonstrated that specific probiotic strains, including Streptococcus salivarius K12, are among the best probiotic for strep throat prevention. Streptococcus salivarius K12, often referred to as S. salivarius K12, is a naturally occurring bacterium found in the mouths and throats of healthy individuals. Belonging to the group of “oral streptococci,” these bacteria are typically considered harmless or even beneficial. When used as a supplement, Streptococcus salivarius K12 probiotics have shown promise in both treating and preventing strep throat. Here’s how:

Probiotics for strep throat - K12 probiotics

  1. Competing with harmful bacteria: S.salivarius k12 produces antimicrobial substances that help to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, including Streptococcus pyogenes, which causes strep throat.
  2. Boosting Immunity: One of the key qualities that make S. salivarius K12 one of the best probiotic for strep throat is its ability to stimulate the immune system. This immune activation assists in enhancing the body’s natural defenses against infections, including strep throat.
  3. Reducing inflammation: S.salivarius k12 has been shown to reduce inflammation in the throat, which can help to relieve the symptoms of strep throat.

Read more: Top 5 probiotic good bacteria for mouth

Effective in Adults

In a clinical trial conducted with adult volunteers who had a history of recurrent strep throat or bacterial tonsillitis, researchers found that those who took a daily lozenge containing probiotic S. salivarius K12 for 90 days had an 84% reduction in the incidence of strep throat or tonsillitis compared to the previous year. Even during a six-month follow-up period with no treatment, the group that had taken S. salivarius K12 still had a 62% reduction in episodes of strep throat or tonsillitis compared to the untreated group. This study showed that using S. salivarius K12 as a preventive probiotic was effective in significantly reducing the recurrence rate of strep throat and helping to prevent strep throat.

Probiotics for strep throat - adults

Effective in Children

Researchers aimed to determine if children could benefit from the same protection offered by S. salivarius K12 probiotic, as they tend to experience strep throat more frequently than adults. A study was conducted on children aged 3-13 years with recurrent strep throat. They were either given a lozenge containing at least one billion colony-forming units of S. salivarius K12 or received no therapy for 90 days.

Probiotics for strep throat - Children

The results showed that children who took the probiotic experienced a significant 97% reduction in strep throat infections, with an average decrease from 3.1 infections per child in the previous year to just 0.1 per child. No significant change was observed in the untreated group. Additionally, children who took S. salivarius K12 had an 80% decrease in viral throat infections, possibly due to the probiotic’s ability to reduce inflammation and increase levels of antiviral compounds.

Summary

Strep throat, a bacterial infection that spreads easily through close contact, touching contaminated surfaces, or sharing food or drinks, is often confused with sore throat due to similar symptoms. However, unlike sore throat which may resolve without medical treatment within a few days, strep throat typically requires medical intervention. One important differentiating factor is that strep throat usually does not involve coughing

Probiotics, particularly strains such as S. salivarius K12, may be a beneficial approach to support overall health, especially in relation to strep throat prevention.  However, it is important to choose high-quality supplements and consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplements. Taking preventive measures such as washing hands regularly and avoiding close contact with infected individuals and following healthcare provider’s recommendations can help reduce the risk of developing strep throat and other infections.    

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