Sore Throat or Strep? Here's How You Tell the Difference

Sore throats are common and often no cause for alarm. While the common cold is a leading cause, symptoms can also derive from an infection in need of treatment. About 11,000-13,000 cases of invasive strep disease crop up each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Luckily, strep throat is treatable when it’s diagnosed and addressed early on.

If you think you or a loved one may have strep throat, call AccuHealth Urgent Care or book an appointment using our online scheduler.

Causes: Strep throat vs. the common cold

Both colds and strep throat derive from infections, but the infections are different. Strep throat infections are caused by streptococcus bacteria. Colds can be caused by many viruses, with the rhinovirus being the most common. A sore throat can also derive from allergies, the flu, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), irritants in the area, and, less commonly, tumors.

Symptoms: Strep vs. cold

Both strep throat and colds can cause a bothersome sore throat. In fact, throat soreness is often the first sign of the common cold. With colds, however, this soreness often improves or goes away completely on its own within a couple of days. A sore throat associated with strep tends to be quite painful and linger until treatment begins.

Other than a sore throat, common cold symptoms include:

Additional symptoms of strep throat include:

The best way to differentiate between a sore throat caused by strep throat or another cause is through a comprehensive medical exam at AccuHealth Urgent Care. At the exam, we discuss your symptoms and medical history with you and examine your throat.

Treatment: Strep vs. cold

Treatment for a cold usually involves rest and plenty of fluids while your body fights off the infection. Home remedies such as lozenges and ice pops can help ease cold-related throat pain.

Strep throat is typically treated with penicillin or other antibiotics, which can be administered orally, through prescription pills, or intravenously, through injections. Once your treatment starts, you should start feeling better within a few days. Even so, continue taking your medication as instructed. Rest is an important aspect of strep throat treatment, too.

To learn more about whether your sore throat is caused by strep or something else, contact AccuHealth Urgent Care by phone or online today.

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