How to Tell the Difference Between a Sore Throat and Strep

Winter is a popular time for the suspicious sore throat. Thanks to the chilly air, your respiratory system is more vulnerable to germs. In fact, acute sore throat accounts for about 12 million hospital visits a year. 

About 50 to 80% of sore throats end up being some kind of viral infection. Strep throat makes up for about 36% of bacterial infections. That’s why it’s a really good idea to know what you’re dealing with so you can better manage your symptoms.

If you have a sore throat and home remedies aren’t doing the trick, then it may be time to visit Dr. Rakesh Chugh and see what his years of experience and expertise can do for you.

What exactly is a sore throat?

A sore throat (pharyngitis) is most often characterized by some form of inflammation in the throat. That inflammation can cause pain or irritation that can make it hard to swallow. Sore throats can be triggered by allergies, dry air, or vocal strain (yelling for long periods of time). Symptoms include:

Painful swallowing Swollen glands Inflamed tonsils A hoarse or scratchy voice

During this time of year, it’s pretty easy to catch something and a sore throat is often the first sign of a problem. 

Can a virus cause a sore throat?

If you’re dealing with a sore throat for longer than a few days, there’s a very good chance it’s due to a virus. Colds and flus are the top two culprits, and with those, you also suffer from coughing, congestion, and runny nose. But other viruses can cause a sore throat, such as:

Measles Mumps Chickenpox Mononucleosis Whooping cough

When does strep throat cause a sore throat?

Strep throat is the most common bacteria to cause sore throats. It can present with many of the same symptoms like colds and cases of the flu. With that said, strep throat doesn’t normally cause coughing or a runny nose, and you can have strep throat with a cold. 

You should expect a severe sore throat with strep throat, along with:

Fever Headache Swollen tonsils, usually with pus Small red spots in the back of the mouth

If left untreated, strep throat can cause problems such as rheumatic fever and inflammation of the kidneys. That’s why it’s so important you treat your strep throat before it progresses. Thankfully, it’s very easy to find out if you have strep or not.

Since the symptoms are like other viruses and bacteria that can cause sore throats, you might mistake strep throat for something else. A throat culture can be used to determine if you have a sore throat, a virus, or strep.

Are you suffering from a sore throat? Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with Dr. Chugh today. 

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