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How much longer do I have to swallow knives before I can go back to the doctor?
June 3, 2010 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Dear Chronic Strep Throat sufferers, how long should I wait for a strep throat infection to start clearing up before going to the doctor again?

This is the third time in a 12 month period that I have had strep throat. This is by far the worst. Tuesday morning, I woke up with a sore throat, did the salt water gargle/oil of oregano bit, by early evening I had a fever. Started cycling between tylenol and advil to control the fever, it helped a bit but the fever never went below 38.7.

Wednesday morning I went to the walk-in clinic, got a 7-day prescription for penicillin (taking two 300 MG pills three times a day). I just took the 6th dose. I know it might be a little early to expect results, but I seem to be getting worse. The fever was lower this morning, but it's gone up again towards the end of the day. The lymph nodes on the right side of my neck/underside of my chin are visibly swollen and very sore. I've just discovered a tender, swollen lymph node on the back of my head (same side). That was not there before today.

My throat is more sore on one side than the other (the right, obviously) and is completely covered in white pus. The left side is also significantly covered, but not to the same extent. My tonsils are so swollen that they touch and basically close off my throat. Neither antibiotics or home remedies have changed their appearance.

I can't stay awake for longer than an hour at a time. I can't eat anything, not even soup, it hurts too much. I am just able to swallow my pills and drink water in small sips.

Chronic strep sufferers, how long should I wait before going back to the doctor? I am also a chronic strep sufferer, but it's never been this bad before. I don't want to go back too soon, but I also don't want to ignore this if it is really bad and needs some other kind of treatment.

(sorry this is so long, I'm delirious.)
posted by Felicity Rilke to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
 
Gogogo. I thought I had nasty strep once that turned out to be Mono. My glands looked like I'd swallowed golf balls. It sounds like you may be in the same boat- They can't do much for you except hook you up with some painkillers, but it sounds like you could use them.
posted by GilloD at 6:31 PM on June 3, 2010


I would go to the doctor. In my experience with strep, the antibiotics start working within 12 hours of the first dose.
posted by amro at 6:35 PM on June 3, 2010


Did they actually run a strep test or diagnose you based on symptoms?
posted by Justinian at 6:45 PM on June 3, 2010


I used to be a chronic strep sufferer, too, and never did my symptoms last more than 24 hours after the first dose of penicillin.

Go to the doctor.
posted by cooker girl at 6:48 PM on June 3, 2010


No strep test was run (the last time that clinic ran a rapid strep test, it came back negative but was in fact positive, leading me to develop an ear infection AND recurrent strep two days after finishing antibiotics). However, I am pretty sure I got this from a little girl I babysit who definitely has strep, she was tested.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 6:51 PM on June 3, 2010


I am not a doctor, and the following is wholly anecdotal: I got recurring upper respiratory infections for years, and my lymph nodes would swell badly. I found steroids - Prednisone - to be really helpful, as they reduced the swelling quickly and the helped to make me a bit less lethargic.
Go to the doctor. You shouldn't be suffering like you are.
posted by queseyo at 6:52 PM on June 3, 2010


I just went through this about a month ago.

Be sure to take some Tylenol or Advil to bring your fever down and reduce pain/swelling. If your discomfort is preventing you from eating or sleeping well, you need to fix that so your body can heal itself (with the help of the Penicillin, of course). Drink smoothies and cold fruit juice. Chewing vitamin C tabs are good as well--not because of any miraculous healing powers of vitamin C, but because their acidity is good for keeping your mouth and throat wet and lubricated.

If you're showing no improvement and may even be getting worse, you may have a strain of bacteria that's resistant to your antibiotics. Go back to your doctor as soon as possible.
posted by holterbarbour at 6:55 PM on June 3, 2010


also, whether a rapid strep test is run or not, insist on the 'old-fashioned' culture test. the rapid strep test is *not* as reliable as the older test, which itself is not 100% reliable (but is better). a positive rapid test is almost definitely positive, but false negatives are very common and somewhat dependent on practitioner technique and other factors you can't really do much about. in my opinion, the rapid test should be used to assure the doctor and/or patient that antibiotics are really necessary, if one was leaning toward not taking them. a negative test should be followed up, especially with symptoms like yours. good luck!
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:02 PM on June 3, 2010


Ok, if you and the doctors are sure it's strep and this is a recurring problem, you might want to talk to your doctors about the possibility of having your tonsils removed. Seriously, it's not all that big a big deal and you sound like you're having an awful time. Only you and your doctors can know if it is best for your particular situations, of course, but personally I'd be a lot more worried about resistant bacteria and toxic shock and so on than about getting my tonsils removed.
posted by Justinian at 7:06 PM on June 3, 2010


(note for nitpickers: Yes, strep throat affects areas other than the tonsils but tonsillectomy has been shown to reduce rates of strep throat pretty significantly)
posted by Justinian at 7:08 PM on June 3, 2010


not that it is helpful at the moment, but sometimes recurrent strep infections can be caused by an infected tooth. get well soon.
posted by kimyo at 7:16 PM on June 3, 2010


IANAD, but please go to one as soon as possible. Untreated strep throat--or, I would guess, strep that isn't responding to treatment--is a nasty and dangerous business.
posted by newrambler at 7:31 PM on June 3, 2010


If you are getting it chronically, here's some advice: Start cleaning your tonsils on a daily basis. Get a syringe like these and a small flashlight. Fill up the syringe with warm, lightly salty water. In front of a mirror and over a sink, shine the light into your mouth and use the syringe to irrigate your tonsils. Be prepared to gag a little at first; the reflex problem, but also it's just kinda gross.

You do still need to go back to the doctor, obviously. This is not a home treatment for strep throat. This is how I went from tonsillitis (always bacterial, responded to antibiotics, but I always flunked the actual strep test) roughly five times a year to not one case in the past six years or so. Some people's tonsils trap more stuff in them than others, and this can lead to infections. I had to do it daily for about six months, and now I do it more like twice a week. No infections in years, as I said. Much simpler than surgery, also cheaper. Worth trying before the surgical option.
posted by gracedissolved at 7:53 PM on June 3, 2010


Last time my youngest had strep symptoms, I took her in, the rapid strep came back negative, the doc said, "it's textbook strep, even if it's not the common one," gave us a prescription & sent us on our way. The prescription didn't work as fast as I expected but it did eventually work (or something worked) and a few days later doc calls back and says 'yeah, so that wasn't strep... that's staph, is that prescription working alright? Its really not the greatest for this class of bacteria..." so what I learned from all this is that not only are there multiple streps floating around out there, staph can also present with symptoms that can fool a seasoned doctor into thinking texbook strep. It all hurts like the Dickens, but the effective treatments do vary...
posted by susanbeeswax at 8:42 PM on June 3, 2010


Nthing the advice to get to a doctor as soon as you can. You may have a bug that isn't responding to penicillin. Strep is not something to mess around with, as it can cause complications, including rheumatic fever, which though uncommon, can damage your heart.

Trust me, your doctor wants to help you. Call and explain what's happening and they will either tell you to come in or they will phone in a different prescription for you.

Strep is awful. I hope you feel better soon.
posted by corey flood at 9:23 PM on June 3, 2010


Seconding the tonsillectomy, too, once you get over it this time. When I was a kid, I had strep at least annually. The year I had it three times, the doctor decided it was time for my tonsils to go.

I haven't had had strep throat since, and that was 16 years ago.
posted by hwyengr at 10:22 PM on June 3, 2010


This is an overwhelming push to see a doctor ASAP. Advice I will take, especially considering the fact that I just woke up and basically . . . coughed up a piece of tonsil? A big patch of white on the most affected tonsil is now gone, leaving in its place red tonsil and a rather deep-looking hole.

Also, I think it's time to talk about having these things removed. This is total bullshit.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:51 PM on June 3, 2010


A big patch of white on the most affected tonsil is now gone


Tonsilloliths
That's what gracedissolved is talking about when he/she mentions rinsing your tonsils with a syringe.
posted by CathyG at 7:14 AM on June 4, 2010


I think it might have been a small tonsil abscess (which I had before on the back of the same tonsil, though it ended with me coughing up a bunch of blood), not a stone (it wasn't stone-like). I've made an appointment to see my doctor next week to get a referral to an ENT. I woke up this morning after drenching three pairs of pajamas and sheets in sweat without a fever and feeling a lot better. Still not 100 percent, but my tonsils are less swollen and sore, and the fever is completely gone. I think I might start rinsing my tonsils with a syringe, though.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:41 AM on June 4, 2010


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