Sore Throat vs. Strep Throat

14 Mar

By Kristin Bockenstedt, ARNP – Covenant Clinic Arlington

The winter months seem to hit Iowans hard with many different health related illnesses from the common cold to a sore throat. It is not uncommon for doctors to get visits from sick children and worried parents in regard to the ever dreaded strep throat, but not all sore throats are strep throat. When deciding if a doctor visit is necessary it is important to know the difference.

A sore throat is a basic virus that usually clears up on its own without the use of antibiotics and usually accompanies or follows a cold. Some of the symptoms that come with a sore throat are coughing, runny nose, red eyes, and a hoarse throat.  It is when other symptoms start to develop that strep throat is setting in.

The most common symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Severe and sudden sore throat
  • Fever of 101° or higher
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • White or yellow coating on the tonsils
  • Stomach pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rash

If you notice any two of the three symptoms listed it is recommended to contact your doctor to set up a visit. Strep throat is one of the most common winter illnesses among school aged children and teens. Early detection is key to preventing a more serious illness later and stopping it from spreading.      

Strep throat must be treated with prescribed antibiotics to prevent rheumatic fever.  Rheumatic fever is a disease that develops after strep throat if the strep throat is not treated.

 Along with treatments, many ways exist as to how to prevent sore or strep throat. Some of the most common ways including drinking eight to 12 glasses of water per day, identifying and avoiding irritants that can cause a sore throat, and avoiding contact with people who may have the illness.

But when in doubt about strep throat, always consult your local health care provider. It is better to be safe than sorry.

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