The Best Way To Tell If You Have Strep Throat

Nobody likes feeling under the weather. When you start to feel those aches and pains set in, it can be hard to know exactly what you may be coming down with. Some ailments can present with symptoms that are so similar, that you're not sure if it's simply rest you need or a visit to the doctor pronto. A sore throat and strep throat are examples of two conditions that can be hard to distinguish from one another. While they might feel like nearly identical illnesses, there are some important differences to note between the two.

Sore throats are caused by viruses and can present with pain, redness, and scratchiness, amongst other symptoms (via Mayo Clinic). A sore throat can occur solely on its own, or it may accompany another illness such as the flu or croup. Additional causes of a sore throat that are unrelated to infection can include vocal strain, irritants such as dust or alcohol, or seasonal allergies.

All in all, a sore throat will generally feel more like a cold, while strep throat might feel more like the flu. While the same symptoms won't be universal for everyone, there are two differences between the conditions that, if experienced, are likely an indication of strep throat over a sore throat.

Try using this item to see if you may have strep throat

Unlike the viral nature of a sore throat, strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection (via Samaritan Health Services). While some symptoms may be similar between the two such as pain, loss of voice, coughing, or sneezing, strep throat is often accompanied by the presence of a fever. Family nurse practitioner of Samaritan Internal Medicine Rosemary Schairer explains, "A strep infection can make it feel very painful to swallow, and often comes with [a] fever of 101-degrees or higher."

Additionally, there is another distinct symptom of strep throat that may be the differentiating factor when it comes to an irritated throat, and this symptom can sometimes be detected by using a simple household item — a flashlight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one of the most common symptoms of strep throat is the development of patchy or streaky areas of white pus on the tonsils. Schairer explains how to implement the use of the flashlight, stating, "Strep will often cause red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white splotches, and/or tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth, which you may be able to see by shining a flashlight inside the mouth."

While a sore throat will often subside after a period of rest and recuperation, strep throat will need to be treated by a physician with antibiotics. Be sure to speak to your doctor if your throat pain lasts longer than two days. Schairer stresses the importance of not putting off medical care, stating, "Strep will not go away on its own, and if not treated with antibiotics, can develop into something more serious, especially in children, so don't delay getting medical attention."