Strep Throat vs Sore Throat? 5 Signs of Strep Throat You Need to Know

strep throat vs sore throat

Your throat feels like it’s been sandpapered and you can’t even swallow. Is it strep throat or just a cold?

If you do have strep, it’s important for your friends, family, and community that you find out and get treated right away. Untreated, strep throat is very contagious for 2 or 3 weeks. But after starting treatment, it ceases to be contagious in about 24 hours.

The longer your strep goes untreated, the more people you infect, and the further the infection spreads. Timely treatment is the key to keeping it contained.

But you don’t want to waste your copay on a bad cold, either.

To learn the difference, read the strep throat vs sore throat guide below. If you have any of these strep throat signs, get tested for strep right away.

1. A Sore Throat with No Other Cold Symptoms

The most telltale sign of strep throat is a sore throat without all the typical cold symptoms that accompany it. If you have a painful sore throat but aren’t coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose more than usual, you likely have strep throat.

2. A Sore Throat with a High Fever

One cold symptom that strep throat does share is a high fever (over 101 degrees). When your body tries to fight off the infection of streptococcus bacteria, it often causes a high fever.

Although, the fever caused by strep can sometimes be on the low end. So don’t rule strep out if your fever isn’t that high.

Either way, if you have a bad sore throat with a fever, see a doctor. A fever with strep throat could progress into rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can dangerously affect your joints, skin, brain, heart, and heart valves.

3. Red Tonsils with White Spots

A sore throat from the common cold appears red and irritated. But a simple cold won’t usually alter the appearance of your throat beyond that.

With strep throat, one common symptom is red tonsils with white spots on them. You may also see dark red splotches on the roof of your mouth. If you see anything like this, have a doctor test you for strep throat right away.

4. Scarlet Fever

Scarlet fever is the name of a secondary condition that arises from the same streptococcus bacteria that’s infecting the throat. The most obvious sign of scarlet fever is a bumpy, pink rash on the skin. Other symptoms include:

  • A very red, very sore throat
  • A red, bumpy tongue
  • Bright red patches of skin on elbows, underarms, and groin area
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Scarlet fever is serious and can cause other serious problems if not treated soon enough. It may progress into various other infections, kidney disease, pneumonia, or arthritis.

Like strep throat, scarlet fever is treated with antibiotics.

5. You Test Positive for Strep

While these other signs hint at a possible strep throat infection, there’s truly only one way to be sure. To diagnose strep, you must have a doctor take an oral culture to test for strep bacteria.

To perform the test, the doctor will swab your tonsils and the back of your mouth with a cotton swab for a sample of saliva. The doctor will then perform the rapid strep test on the sample. The rapid test takes only 10-15 minutes.

While the rapid test is very accurate, it occasionally reports negative results even though strep is actually present. If your results are negative, the doctor swabs again and send the sample in for a second, more accurate test. This second test may take up to two days.

Strep Throat Vs Sore Throat: Know How to Tell the Difference

Being able to spot the signs of strep throat could prevent an outbreak. Also, untreated strep throat hurts really bad.

Follow this strep throat vs sore throat guide, and visit Coastal Urgent Care of Thibodaux when you need us.