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Can Exercise Make Strep Throat Worse?

by
author image Jackie Carmichael
Jackie Carmichael has been a freelance writer for more than 10 years. Her work has appeared in "Woman's World" and "American Baby" magazines. Carmichael is a licensed registered nurse and has worked in fields related to cardiovascular health and psychiatry. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from The Ohio State University.
Can Exercise Make Strep Throat Worse?
Don't exercise with strep if the infection is accompanied by fever, muscle aches or nausea. Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Strep throat is a bacterial infection that can cause a very sore throat. Strep is most common in children aged 5 to 15 but can infect all age groups. Not all sore throats are the result of strep; the bacterial infection needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. Exercising with strep throat is not advised if you have a fever and muscle aches, but low- to moderate-intensity exercise may help improve your immune response if you have mild symptoms.

Symptoms

A typical strep infection can cause fever, discomfort and muscle aches, a sore throat, red throat with white patches, headache, nausea or stomach ache and swollen glands in the neck. Some strep infections cause few symptoms. Call your doctor if you have symptoms of strep so that treatment can begin if necessary. Untreated strep throat can lead to kidney complications and rheumatic fever, the PubMed Health website warns.

Treatment

Strep throat is treated with an antibiotic like penicillin. The antibiotic should be taken for the full 10 days, even if your symptoms improve. In the initial 24 to 48 hours after your diagnosis, when you have fever, aches and a sore throat, you should not be around other people, because you are contagious and should rest and drink fluids to recover. It is fine to take over-the counter pain- and fever-relieving medications. You can resume your normal routine, including exercise, when you feel able -- it usually takes about a week to recover fully.

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Exercise and Strep Throat

You might not feel like exercising until the illness begins to improve, though there is no indication that strep worsens with exercise. It is beneficial to follow some general guidelines when making the decision to exercise. Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Dr. Edward R. Laskowski suggests you exercise according to the above or below neck rule: If your symptoms are all above the neck, such as a sore throat, you can exercise if you feel up to it; if you have symptoms below the neck, like nausea, postpone exercise until you feel better. Don't exercise if you have a fever, fatigue or muscle aches.

Exercise and the Immune System

When you are healthy and during periods of mild illness, low-intensity exercise helps to boost the immune system, according to the Cleveland Clinic. For example, a program of brisk walking is great for strengthening the immune system. If you have fever, muscle aches and nausea with strep throat, don't try any type of exercise, even walking. You can get moving when you are feeling better, however. If you are tired after an episode of strep, it's OK to exercise for shorter periods than normal to enhance your immune system --- 20 to 30 minutes of fast walking five days a week.

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