I invited strep throat to dinner, but he just won't eat!
July 10, 2012 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Seems likely I have strep throat. I went to the doctor and they did rapid testing but it came back negative, now they're making a culture to make sure. This will take two days, but since I have all the symptoms of strep (and lack many of tonsillitis), I'd be willing to guess I have strep throat. They haven't put me on antibiotics yet, so it looks like I'm staying sick for a while. What can I eat to keep myself healthy and happy until I know more?

Right now all I can fathom eating is cold and melty, but ice cream and yogurt doesn't seem like a balanced diet. What else can I include on my shopping trips? I normally eat fairly healthy, and honestly I would rather not come out of this with that habit broken.

It's quite painful to swallow, and I really am not a huge fan of pain so I want to make this easy on myself. I would love any advice about what to eat and how to get better!
posted by Strass to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Cepacol Extra-Strength Lozenges. Those things are like little wads of pure benzocaine. Just be sure to position them near the back of your mouth so you don't get numb-tongue.
posted by julthumbscrew at 2:29 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cepacol also comes in a spray.

When I have a terrible sore throat, I generally live on chicken soup and puréed spinach, with the occasional scrambled egg or black beans with guacamole.

Viral throat infections are A Thing, so you might not be offered antibiotics for this at any point. When I get them, they generally take a few weeks to resolve. Of course, my immune system is all messed up by chronic illness, so I'm a bit of an outlier. Hope you get excellent and caring treatment, and that you feel better soon!
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:34 PM on July 10, 2012

I would love any advice about what to eat and how to get better!

You can probably knock it out with a combo of vitamin E, vitamin A and olive leaf extract (OLE). If it hurts to swallow, both vitamin E and A can be applied topically to the skin. Just buy the capsules filled with oil, open them, apply.

Let me recommend watermelon as a healthy food that is swallow friendly. Also, Edy's frozen fruit bars are healthy and ice cream like.

You can also make healthy homemade fruit and juice slushies if you have a blender. Focus more on staying hydrated than on food per se. It takes two or more weeks to starve. You can die of dehydration in way less time than that. Most folks don't stay on top of hydration as well as they should.

Best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 2:39 PM on July 10, 2012

Smoothies are the obvious choice here if you're looking for cold, melty things that can be nutrient rich.

Personally, when I have a very sore throat, all I want is very brothy soup and honey. (Not together. Honey is administered by squirting it directly into the back of your throat...ahhhh.) If you like milk, warm milk with honey is extremely soothing.
posted by phunniemee at 2:40 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best advice the doctor gave me when I had a severe sore throat was take 800 mg (that's likely 4 "regular" pills) of ibuprofen every 4-6 hours. It made my throat so much better.

You can try two pills, which is 400mg, and probably what the back of the bottle recommends, but 800mg is not bad. It's a prescription dose and what my mom takes for her back pain.

If you have to keep this up for a few days, you may get a rebound headache afterward, but soldier on and it'll go away.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:43 PM on July 10, 2012

Old-fashioned remedy, which does help: gargle with very salty hot water. The salt seems to prevent the infection getting much worse, and the heat relieves inflammation and pain.
posted by Miko at 2:44 PM on July 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

You'd never want to take more then 800mg at one time, just FYI. I just wanted to point out that you can take between 400-800mg safely in case 400 didn't work.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 2:44 PM on July 10, 2012

Yes, gargle with salt water. Do you have a fever?

Take lots of liquids, try to take warm things. Try not to irritate it with spicy (hot) stuff or acidic (lemonade, orange juice) in the meanwhile. Honey is soothing so you can take a spoonful of good quality honey several times a day.

Take pain killers if it really hurts. I never found pain killers to help my throat when it hurts but it works for others.

Feel better!
posted by Yellow at 2:53 PM on July 10, 2012

When I went to the doctor I had a fever of 37.6, but I had taken over 3000mg of acetaminophen in the last 24 hours so that's probably an underestimate.

Thank you for the wonderful suggestions!
posted by Strass at 2:58 PM on July 10, 2012

Chicken soup, chicken broth, miso soup, and weak tea are my go-tos when I have a sore throat and trouble swallowing.

Be very careful with the acetaminophen as it's toxic to your liver - ibuprofen is better, and yes, up to 800mg at one time.

Also, if your strep turns out to be viral, antibiotics will NOT do a thing for it; the only thing to do is ride it out with ibuprofen and chicken soup and time. Sucks, I know!
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2012

I had a weird throat thing that would come and stay for week or so with no other symptoms about once a month for 6 months or so. So I developed a combination to cope with the pain.

As OnTheLastCastle said, I would take 4 over the counter advil (or ibuprofen) or 800mg every 4-6 hours, which is basically just the prescription strength.

The Cepocal lozenges, with the benzocaine. There are different kinds, some without the benzocaine, but you definitely want that stuff.

Then my getting better combination for immune boosting, to help me get over it faster! I do the generic AirBorne tablets because they have a lot of Vitamin C and Zinc and B vitamins which are all good for your immune system. And I also add on a bunch of Echinachea (you really can take a ton of that stuff, I probably take 2-3 250mg tablets two to three times daily when I am sick)
posted by Quincy at 3:01 PM on July 10, 2012

Er. Meaning if your sore throat/tonsillitis is viral and NOT strep throat. I've had viral tonsillitis. It sucks. Antibiotics won't do a blessed thing for viral sore throats (and unnecessary antibiotics are a Very Bad Thing); all you can do is strengthen your immune system and ride it out.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 3:01 PM on July 10, 2012

Will the throat culture only tell me it's not strep throat or will it also show if I have viral/bacterial tonsillitis?
posted by Strass at 3:05 PM on July 10, 2012

Warm lemonade is lovely.
posted by scratch at 3:05 PM on July 10, 2012

I like tapicoa pudding - the granulated stuff, it's got a texture closer to cream of wheat than anything. I make mine with canned coconut milk instead of dairy, and don't need to add sugar, and it's delicious cold. It totally saved me when I had my wisdom teeth out.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:05 PM on July 10, 2012

Cold soups (I mean, soups that are meant to be cold). See what your grocery store has in terms of prepared soups if you're not up to that much cooking.

Freeze and then blend a banana and you get something that's a lot like ice cream, only it's really just a banana.

Frozen grapes (might be a little bit harder to chew, but the cold will help).

A really mild guacamole (maybe one that is just mostly avocado).

Beans (you can make these as mild as you like and possibly just eat them cold, unless you're picky).

Apple sauce.
posted by anaelith at 5:36 PM on July 10, 2012

I've suffered through chronic strep AND viral tonsillitis for most of my life and didn't realize until this past winter that Yogi Tea Throat Comfort tea actually works. I'd say it takes about 85% of the edge off the pain for an hour or so, and you can steep and re-steep the same bag a few times.

Also, please be careful with high doses of ibuprofen, especially if you have a family history of GI issues, as it can cause bleeds.
posted by telegraph at 6:02 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

THe culture will say whether it's strep throat or not, but will not indicate at all whether you have a virus. Strep throat is caused by a particular bacteria (Strep. pyogenes) that has a very distinctive appearance on the type of plates they use (S. pyogenes has beta hemolytic activity, which makes blood agar plates clear where it's growing). So the lab will be able to say, yes there is strep pyogenes bacteria in this sample. Other types of bacteria will grow too (you always have bacteria in the mouth/throat, so the growth of something that's not strep pyogenes won't be very informative). You can ask the doctor whether he/she ordered cultures for things besides S. pyogenes. A virus will not be visible (and likely won't grow) on the culture.

posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:03 PM on July 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry -- I tried to link to this for you, but it didn't show up above.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 6:03 PM on July 10, 2012

If you like the taste of garlic, simmering 40 - 50 cloves (yes, that many) and a few sage leaves in 8 - 10 cups of chicken broth for a half hour will make the most amazing immune booster. Warm or cold, it's super soothing for sore throats.
posted by muirne81 at 6:28 PM on July 10, 2012

I, and my gp, thought I had strep throat and treated for such (I found soluble aspirin the most effective pain relief, plus a Lidocaine spray). Four days later I started developing quinsy, a peritonsillar abscess that's a complication of tonsillitis. I have now been in hospital to have it drained twice, and lost three weeks of work and been pumped full of more antibiotics and steroids I knew was possible. I'm telling you this because it is absolutely horrible and one of the few ent emergencies, and something I never knew existed. If you start to feel as though you have something at the back of your throat you can't hoik out, or if you can't swallow at all, or your neck swells on one side, go back to your gp or to an urgent care clinic straight away.

I couldn't handle warm or hot food or drinks (and they increase the swelling anyway). I ate ice cream and smoothies, and quartered multivitamin tablets to swallow each day. And sleep as much as you need to.
posted by goo at 12:21 AM on July 11, 2012

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