Strep or sore throat

Strep throat vs. sore throat

Throat pain that comes on suddenly usually requires a strep throat test to identify if your sore throat is more than just a viral infection.

What is a sore throat and how do you treat it?

  • A sore throat (also known as pharyngitis) is an inflammation of the pharynx, and it can be caused by either a virus or bacteria
  • At-home remedies include rest, hydrating fluids like water, juice, and hot tea, gargling with warm salt water, ice pops, throat lozenges, and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • A viral sore throat should respond within a few days, but an untreated bacterial infection can develop into the back of the throat or the tonsils and may require surgery
  • We can swab your throat to check for strep bacteria. You’ll have your results within five minutes. If you have a bacterial infection, you can be given antibiotics


How can you tell strep throat from a sore throat?

  • A regular sore throat comes on gradually, but strep throat often comes on very suddenly and severely
  • You may have a high fever (above 101 degrees), and your lymph nodes and tonsils may swell
  • If you’re able to look at your own throat, it may appear bright red, and be covered with spots that are white or yellow
  • You will need a strep throat test to identify if your sore throat is more than just a viral infection (pharyngitis)
  • We offer a rapid strep test for strep throat that provide results within five minutes


How is strep throat treated?

When your sore throat is caused by the streptococcal bacteria, then your sore throat is a group A streptococcal (or strep) infection. You will then need antibiotics–usually amoxicillin or penicillin–which we can prescribe.

We can also advise you on best practices to prevent the illness from spreading, such as frequent hand washing and replacing your toothbrush.


What happens after you begin treatment for strep?

  • Once you get a rapid strep test and start taking antibiotics for strep throat, you should be able to return to normal activities such as work, school, or daycare after the first 24 hours of treatment
  • Failing to take antibiotics could mean that you are contagious for as long as three weeks
  • If your family keeps getting strep, consider having your whole family take a strep throat test to find out if one of you is a carrier
  • Carriers harbor the strep bacteria but do not manifest symptoms. Treating the carrier may break the strep cycle
  • Strep throat is highly contagious and occurs most often in children between the ages of five and fifteen


What if you don’t get treated for strep?

Failing to treat strep throat can lead to complications, ranging from ear infections and sinusitis to more severe illnesses like rheumatic fever and scarlet fever, and even a rare kidney infection known as post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

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