Strep Throat or Sore Throat: What's the Difference?

Strep Test

It’s safe to say that everyone has woke up in the morning with a sore throat at least once during their lifetime. But how do you know if it’s just a sore throat, or if it’s strep throat? Unfortunately, it is rather difficult to distinguish between the two on your own. There are numerous reasons for this, including the fact that the signs and symptoms of a sore throat are often the beginning of strep throat, which is caused by the strep bacteria.

What is the Difference Between a Sore Throat and Strep Throat?

Urgentology Care offers diagnosis and treatment for both a sore throat and strep throat. Below are a few of the major differences between the two:

  • Both a sore throat and strep throat are very common, but strep throat is typically more serious.
  • Strep throat is a contagious infection caused by group a Streptococcus bacterium and usually affects children between the ages of 5 and 15.
  • Anyone is at risk of getting strep throat.
  • A sore throat can be caused by numerous different environmental factors in addition to viral or bacterial infections.

Symptoms of Sore Throat

To understand the difference between a sore throat and strep throat, there are a few things to keep in mind. For starters, a sore throat usually comes along with pain, scratchiness, or irritation of the throat that is worse with swallowing. In most cases, a sore throat is caused by a viral infection like a cold or the flu and it usually resolves on its own over time. Some of the most common symptoms of a sore throat include:

  • Pain in the throat that worsens with swallowing or talking
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Scratchy or itchy sensation in the back of the throat
  • Sore or swollen glands in the neck or jaw
  • Swollen, red tonsils
  • Hoarseness
  • Earache

A sore throat can be joined by a fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing, body aches, headache, nausea, or vomiting. If you are experiencing these symptoms and they are not getting better, we encourage you to come into our Arlington urgent care center right away. Our team of doctors are dedicated to helping you get better, regardless of what your symptoms are. If your child has a sore throat and are showing the following severe signs, please bring them to Urgentology Care right away:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual drooling

Symptoms of Strep Throat

Strep throat is caused by Group A bacteria which live in the nose and throat and can be easily spread to other people. While not everyone gets infected by the Group A bacteria, those that do develop the highly contagious strep throat may display the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat that comes on out of nowhere
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headache
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea or vomiting

For severe strep throat symptoms, we may offer IV treatment to provide for quick relief. We would target the bacteria faster with antibiotics and steroid if needed. Especially for patient population presenting with difficulty or painful swallowing which is usually due to acute tonsillitis. Strep throat is diagnosed using a quick strep swab that allows us to look for indicator molecules that belong to Group A Streptococcus. If the test comes back positive, we will likely prescribe antibiotics that should get you feeling better within 48 hours.

We offer diagnosis and treatment for both sore throats and strep throat here at Urgentology Care. If you have any of the above symptoms, please come into our urgent care clinic right away.

Important: If you have a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest Emergency Room. Information in this site is not intended to be used as a diagnosis for your symptoms. If you experience any of these symptoms, please seek medical attention or visit Urgentology Care.

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