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Sharp Health News

Sore throat vs. strep throat (infographic)

July 25, 2017

A sore throat is often the first indication that a cold is on its way. But how do you know if it's something worse? Strep throat, a bacterial infection caused by streptococcal bacteria, can also make your throat sore — but ignoring it could lead to more serious conditions. We asked Dr. James Lin, a board-certified internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy, to weigh in on the differences.

While any number of factors can cause a sore throat, strep throat can be dangerous. Learn the warning signs and know when to get help. A sore throat is a viral infection or a side effect of allergies. Symptoms of sore throat include red, swollen tonsils or throat; cold symptoms, such as coughing, headache or runny nose; and difficulty swallowing. A visual throat exam is needed to diagnose sore throat and the length of contagion is five to seven days from the onset of symptoms. Treatments may include over-the-counter medications, fluids and rest. Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by streptococcal bacterial. Symptoms include pus in the back of the throat; red, swollen tonsils or throat; white spots on the tongue; swollen lymph nodes in the neck; check or neck rash; difficulty swallowing; and fever, headache or chills. A throat culture swab is used to diagnose strep throat. Treatment may include antibiotics, over-the-counter medications, fluids and rest. Without antibiotics, a person with strep throat is contagious a few weeks. With antibiotics, the length of contagion is 24 to 48 hours. If you suspect you have strep throat, see a doctor right away. Ignoring it could make it worse, lead to more serious conditions and cause it to last longer. “You can fight the common cold with good hygiene, rest, a healthy diet and exercise,” says Dr. James Lin, a board-certified internal medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “But strep throat is harder to shake. Look for warning signs, stay healthy and never share utensils with someone with strep.”

View the printable version of this infographic.

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