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What Causes Recurring Strep Throat?

Bacteria remaining on uncleaned bed linen or other belongings can cause a recurrence of strep throat.
If someone suffering from strep throat does not finish all of his prescribed medication, the infection might not be eradicated.
Someone with an already weakened immune system, such as a chemotherapy patient, can be more at risk of suffering a recurrence of strep throat.
A crossection of the human head, including the throat.
Regular hand washing can help prevent the recurrence of strep throat.
Strep throat bacteria may contaminate a living space and re-enter the body after one has been treated, causing another strep throat infection.
Completing a full course of prescribed antibiotics can strengthen the immune system to fight against future strep infections.
A severe sore throat may be a sign of strep throat.
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  • Written By: Liz Fernandez
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2014
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Strep throat is a term used to describe streptococcal infections caused by bacteria in the mucus membrane that lines the pharynx. Recurring strep throat occurs when a person gets several bouts of strep throat in a short period of time. Having an incidence of the infection more than six times in one year can be cause for concern. Causes of the chronic illness include living in an environment that is contaminated by the bacteria, not completing an antibiotic treatment, and having a weak immune system.

A sore throat that is red and contains tonsils spotted with white dots is the most common symptom of strep throat. Other symptoms include rashes on the body and skin infections. A recurring bout of strep throat causes much discomfort in the patient as well as missed school and work. If it is severe enough, surgery may be needed. Surgery, however, does not guarantee that the person will not get strep throat again.

Many cases of recurring strep throat are caused by bacteria that are present in the person’s environment. Even if he or she undergoes successful treatment, the infection may recur because the bacteria is still present in the household. The bacteria may be found on the person’s belongings, such as on bed linens. Doctors recommend disinfecting the house if chronic strep throat is a problem.

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Not administering antibiotics properly is also a cause of recurring strep throat. Often when a patient who is being treated for strep begins to feel better, he or she will stop taking the prescribed antibiotic. Doctors warn that every pill or ounce of liquid of an antibiotic must be taken in order for the bacteria to be completely expelled from the body. Completing the antibiotic regimen will also strengthen the immune system and help fight future infections.

A weakened immune system can also result in recurrent strep throat. People suffering from HIV/AIDS, those who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, or patients who have undergone organ transplants are at risk. Doctors will monitor these patients closely and advise them to practice good hygiene in order to avoid coming into contact with the bacteria.

Steps to help prevent strep throat from recurring include washing hands frequently and using antibacterial soap. This is recommended before and after every meal, after using the bathroom, and when spending time in a public area. Doctors also recommend not sharing drinks or eating utensils as well as staying away from those who are sick. Areas that are crowded, especially with children ages five to 15, are more prone to breeding the bacteria that causes the infection. Avoiding these areas will reduce a person’s chances of getting strep throat.

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anon349634
Post 14

My son got strep four times in fourth grade, twice in fifth, and currently has it as a sixth grader and it's only September. It started when we moved from Caribou, Maine to the Carolinas. He acquired an allergy to amox in fifth grade and is now prescribed an antibiotic that starts with a K. At first, his symptoms of strep were clearly severe strep, but over the years they currently seem like a combination of a GI virus and allergies.

I blame the school entirely and shame them for being so strict on allowing only a certain number of excused doctor slips per year. I raised hell in fourth grade because they said my kid might not pass because of the sick days even though he maintained honors courses and his test scores were above average. I threatened to call the news.

anon326058
Post 13

@LisaLou: Mono stays in your system forever. It is viral, not bacterial. Once you have it, you will always have it and can have it over and over again.

andee
Post 12

Both of my girls worked at a day care when they were in high school. Before they started working there, they hardly ever got sick. As soon as they were around small children all the time, they both ended up with strep throat more than once.

If someone isn't used to an environment like this, I think they have to give their body a chance to build up resistance to it. The longer they worked there, the less often they got sick.

LisaLou
Post 11

When I was in high school I came down with mono and don't ever remember feeling as bad than when I had this. This left my immune system weak for a long time, and it seemed like I caught everything that came along.

One year I had strep throat at least three times. I finally started taking nutritional supplements that would support and strengthen my immune system. It didn't happen very quickly, but gradually I was able to build up my immune system and not be so susceptible to colds and strep throat.

Thankfully, I haven't had strep throat for about five years now. This was a slow process, but it took a long time to build up my immune system to the point where I could fight off the infection.

bagley79
Post 10

My son doesn't get sick very often, and the first time he had strep throat was when he was away at college. After about four days of taking the antibiotics, he felt so much better that he quit taking the rest of it. In less than two weeks, the strep throat came back, and was worse the second time around. I think he learned his lesson about how important it is to finish all of your medication no matter how much better you are feeling.

myharley
Post 9

It seems like if one of my kids comes down with strep throat, chances are good that the others will too. As much as I try to keep things clean and disinfected, it is hard for the other kids not to catch something that is contagious.

My daughter has the most problems with strep throat and may have this at least 2-3 times during the winter. The doctor has to keep changing the antibiotic she is taking so she won't build up a resistance to it. This is something I sure hope she outgrows as she gets older. The minute she starts complaining of her throat being sore, I get her to the doctor to get started on some medication.

LoriCharlie
Post 8

@KaBoom - That sounds awful! Your friend must really love her job, though. If I were getting sick from work all the time, I would probably look for alternate employment!

KaBoom
Post 7

From what I understand, working around children can definitely make you more prone to getting recurring strep throat. I have a good friend who works in a daycare, and whenever she gets the signs of strep throat, she heads to the doctor immediately because she gets strep all the time!

Her doctor has ran some tests on her, and there isn't anything wrong with her immune system. It's just that daycares are basically breeding grounds for germs and viruses!

JessicaLynn
Post 6

@dautsun - I'm not surprised that you got a strep throat diagnosis a second time if you stopped taking your antibiotics. My doctor explained to me awhile ago that towards the end of the course of antibiotics, the "weak" bacteria have already been killed off, but the "strong" bacteria are still there til the end. So if you stop taking your medicine, the "strong" bacteria can make you really sick. This is how super-germs happen, too!

dautsun
Post 5

I had recurring severe strep throat a few years ago. I had it twice in one summer! It was horrible. I originally caught strep throat in June of that year, and then I had my purse stolen. I happened to be carrying my antibiotics with me, and since I was feeling better and I only had a few more pills to take, I didn't bother calling my doctor.

So of course about a week later I caught strep again. When I went back to my doctor, he told me that since I didn't take all of my antibiotics, some of the bacteria stuck around in my system.

I'm definitely going to make sure that I take all my antibiotics when I get sick in the future.

OeKc05
Post 4

@shell4life – I think that strep throat in adults may not be quite as common as in children, but that doesn't mean we aren't vulnerable. In fact, though I had many cases of a sore throat as a kid, I didn't actually catch strep throat until I was thirty-two.

It was the worst sore throat I had ever experienced. I could barely swallow my own saliva, and the fever made me loopy. I caught it again the following year, which just seemed way too soon to me!

shell4life
Post 3

Kids seem like they get strep throat a lot. I think this is because they are around so many other kids at school, and none of them have really excellent hygiene.

My little sister had chronic strep throat as a child. Somehow, I managed to keep from getting it, probably because I washed my hands often and stayed far away from here while she was sick.

Do adults get strep throat very often? I know that they can catch it, but I seem to have noticed more kids with it than grownups.

lighth0se33
Post 2

@Perdido – Chances are that if you complete your strep treatment, you won't catch it again. If you take every antibiotic pill that the doctor has prescribed, then your immune system should be strong enough to ward it off in the future.

It's also important to take all your steroid pills, if that is what you have been given. The steroids strengthen your body enough to fight the infection, and without them, antibiotics might not be enough.

I took penicillin for my strep infection last year, in conjunction with steroid pills. Once I ran out of steroid pills, I caught strep again. This was because the penicillin didn't do its job, so I had to get a different antibiotic.

Perdido
Post 1

If the bacteria that cause a strep throat infection can linger on sheets and upholstery, then how does anyone keep from getting it over and over? Do you have to sanitize your entire house once you recover?

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