As the weather gets colder and we gear up for the winter months, we also start to see an uptick in illnesses. Everything from colds and flu to strep throat abound, and ENT doctors certainly start to see more patients. So, how do you know if you’re dealing with a simple sore throat or whether your sore throat might actually be strep? Since strep is the result of a bacterial infection, this problem will require medical treatment to get better.
What is the difference between strep and a sore throat?
Not all sore throats are strep but all strep certainly causes sore throats. Unfortunately, it can be challenging to spot the difference between a good ole sore throat and strep throat. A sore throat is often caused by a viral infection such as a cold, while strep throat is caused by a bacteria called streptococcus. A sore throat will also go away on its own but strep throat won’t.
What are the warning signs of strep?
While strep can happen to both children and adults, ENT doctors most often see it in children. If you have a simple sore throat you’re most likely to also have symptoms of a cold such as a cough, runny nose, or sneezing. A strep throat, on the other hand, can cause,
- Inflamed, swollen, and red tonsils
- White or red spots on the roof of the mouth or tonsils
- A severe sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck
- Fever (typically over 101 F)
The main difference between a sore throat and strep is that strep won’t produce a cough. If you or your child is experiencing these symptoms it’s time to visit an ear, nose, and throat doctor for treatment.
How is strep treated?
Since strep is caused by a bacterial infection the only course of action is to treat the problem with a round of antibiotics. Since strep throat can cause complications it’s important that you seek treatment for strep as soon as you notice symptoms. Once starting the antibiotics, you should also begin to feel better within 48 hours (but don’t stop taking your medication just because you feel better!). It’s also important to rest and stay hydrated during this time to help your body heal.
If you are experiencing symptoms of strep throat, it’s always best to play it safe and call your ENT doctor. We would be happy to listen to your symptoms over the phone to determine whether you need to come into the office for an evaluation.