A fast and easy examination at UrgentMed family medicine can tell you for sure about whether you have strep throat or a sore throat. Sore throats are caused by a variety of factors, including viruses, bacteria, allergens, and dry air, and they are treatable with home care. On the other hand, a strep throat requires a physician’s diagnosis and treatment.
Allergens, such as pollen, dust or food, as well as bacterial infections can lead to a sore throat. However, the most common triggers are the flu and viral infections, which are resistant to antibiotics.
The following are some common symptoms of a sore throat:
- An inflamed, scratchy throat and tonsils
- Runny nose
- A lump on the neck
- A cough or the common cold
- Moderate fever
- Mild rash
- Trouble breathing
Fortunately, you can get rid of a sore throat with the help of some home remedies, such as:
- Gargling warm salt water to help decrease swelling and alleviate the discomfort
- Drinking warm liquids, like honey and lemon tea, or chicken broth soup
- Taking throat lozenges
- Using a throat spray with phenol
- Taking over-the-counter pain medication to relieve possible body aches and pains
If you experience recurrent sore throats or your throat feels sore for more than one week, you should visit a doctor. Your physician can prescribe something to alleviate your throat discomfort.
Strep throat is more common among children, but it can also affect adults. Its symptoms are usually more severe in comparison to those of a sore throat, and they include:
- White patches at the back of the throat
- A sore throat without common cold symptoms, like a cough, runny rose, and congestion
- Red, swollen tonsils, at times followed by white patches or streaks
- Inflamed lymph nodes
- Small red spots at the back of the mouth’s roof
- Problems with swallowing or breathing
- An infection in the ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the abdomen
If left untreated, a strep throat can lead to complications, like rheumatic fever, kidney inflammation, scarlet fever, or post-streptococcal reactive arthritis. Therefore, seeing a doctor as early as possible is critical.
Your doctor can conduct a quick strep test to check for antigens belonging to the Streptococcus A bacterial strain. If the test turns negative, the doctor may still perform a throat culture to confirm the accuracy of the diagnosis.
If the test gives a positive result, you have a strep throat, and the doctor will likely prescribe antibiotics. You should complete the whole course of treatment, as advised by the doctor. If you don’t, you’ll allow any remaining harmful bacteria to mutate and gain more resistance to antibiotics.
Ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help to soothe throat discomfort and fever.
Since strep throat is highly contagious, getting urgent medical care is important, so that you can reduce the risk of infecting your family members and friends.
If your child has signs of a strep throat, you can take them to an urgent care facility for proper diagnosis and treatment. Also, keep them home from school or other activities until they recover. Fortunately, after 24 hours of treatment with antibiotics, a strep infection becomes less contagious.