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Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat

Often, waking up with the feeling of a hoarse throat coupled with a stuffy, runny nose, means the beginning of a cold. But how do you know when that sore throat is a symptom of a much larger problem, such as the flu or even strep throat?

In this blog post, we will discuss the differences between sore throats and strep throats.

What is a sore throat?

It’s not a throat that feels mad about losing! In fact, everyone knows the feeling: a scratchy, tender, and painful throat. Sore throats are usually the first indication of a cold or the flu, so look for these other symptoms to be sure:

  • runny nose;
  • inflamed tonsils;
  • sneezing;
  • tender and swollen neck glands;
  • cough;
  • mild headache;
  • pain or discomfort when swallowing;
  • mild body aches; and
  • fever.

What is strep throat?

Strep throat is a severe sore throat that is caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus. Common in children aged five to 15, strep throat is spread when you come into contact with an infected person’s saliva or nasal secretions. It is important to receive prompt medical attention for strep throat because it can cause a more serious disease called rheumatic fever.

Although strep throat has many of the same symptoms as a sore throat that is indicative of a cold or the flu, symptoms of strep throat can also include:

  • painful and/or swollen tonsils with white patches and/or streaks of pus;
  • small red spots on the roof the mouth;
  • rashes (typically presented as a bumpy red rash on the chest/back);
  • stomachaches; and
  • nausea and vomiting.

When should you see a doctor?

As mentioned before, sore throats are usually harmless indicators of common illnesses, but you or your child should see a doctor if:

  • the symptoms have not improved after five days;
  • the sore throat is frequent and resistant to over-the-counter painkillers;
  • there are breathing difficulties;
  • it is hard to swallow saliva or fluids;
  • urine is caramel colored; and/or
  • you have had recent contact with someone with strep throat.

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Diagnoses

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  • Otitis Media - Ear Infection
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