Sore Throat or Strep Throat? How to Tell the Difference _

Your throat aches and burns. It's painful to swallow. You know something is wrong, but how bad is it? Will it get better without antibiotics? Or will you need to visit the doctor?

This article is designed to help you find relief from your sore throat, and discover whether or not you may have strep throat symptoms. You will find the telltale signs and symptoms, as well as treatment options for both. It’s important to know what is causing your symptoms, because treatments for different kinds of infections vary.

What Is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is always caused by a bacterial infection. Group A Streptococcus bacteria ("group A strep") infects the throat and the tonsils, and it will quickly respond to antibiotics.

What Is the Common Sore Throat?

A sore throat can be quite painful, but it is not as painful as strep throat. When you have the common cold, the cause is usually a virus. This means it will not respond to antibiotics.

Even if it’s not strep, you may need to see a doctor for relief. It’s time to see the doctor if your symptoms

  • last longer than a week,
  • keep coming back,
  • make your voice hoarse for more than two weeks,
  • cause dehydration, or
  • worry you in some other way.

Some of the signs of strep throat will be visible. They may include

  • white patches on the tonsils or throat,
  • dark red splotches or spots on the roof of the mouth, and
  • a skin rash.

Those white spots are pus pockets. In addition, some patients may exhibit swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck and some with fever above about 101-102 F. The signs and symptoms are the same for both children and adults.

Although these signs may indicate strep, a visit to the doctor is necessary to make a full determination. A full diagnosed is impossible by visual signs alone.