Is it Strep or Just a Sore Throat?

If your sore throat persists and you suspect strep, head to a doctor. Here are the signs to look for

Credit: Flickr /jaypeg21

Flickr /jaypeg21

A severely sore throat without cough or runny nose could mean strep

While a sore throat typically goes away on its own, if it’s strep, you’ll need antibiotics

Many sore throats experienced during cold season are caused by viruses and don’t respond to antibiotics. While they can cause considerable pain and discomfort, most sore throats respond well to self- care and clear up on their own within a couple of days.

Although not as common, some severe throat pain can also be caused by the presence of Streptococcus pyogenes bacteria, resulting in an infection known as strep throat.

What Are the Symptoms of Strep Throat?

One of the distinguishing features of strep throat is that the typical signs of a cold, such as a cough and runny nose, are not present. Other signs may include:

  • Severe throat pain
  • A red, raw throat, possibly with white patches
  • Difficulty swallowing and speaking
  • Fever or headache
  • A rash
  • Enlarged, sore glands in the neck
  • Stomach ache in children

How Will You Know if You’ve Got Strep?

One way to confirm a strep infection is through a strep test. To do this, a physician will swab the back of the throat and send the specimen to a lab. If the results confirm streptococcal bacteria are present, the doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to clear up the infection.

Prompt treatment is important to keep the infection from developing into other more serious illnesses, such as rheumatic fever, as well as to keep the bacteria from spreading to others, as it is highly contagious.

See your doctor if strep throat is suspected. If you are being treated for strep throat, do not stop taking your antibiotics just because you are feeling better. Finish the medication exactly as prescribed to eradicate the bacteria and prevent any opportunity for it to develop resistance.

Originally published in Wellness Matters, Canada Wide Media’s quarterly newsletter on health and wellness.