A scratchy, sore throat is often a byproduct of a cold or the flu. The pain associated with a sore throat can make attending to your day-to-day activities difficult. When a sore throat is diagnosed as strep throat, not only is the pain likely to be worse but there can also be serious complications if the illness is left untreated. Strep throat is a bacterial infection, accounting for a relatively small portion of sore throats. Although children are the likeliest group to be diagnosed with strep throat, adults can also contract the illness.
A sore throat that accompanies a viral infection—like a cold—may resolve on its own, although it could require treatment to minimize the symptoms. Strep throat definitely requires treatment, however, because of its potential complications. Strep is easily spread from person to person, either through coughing and sneezing, kissing, or sharing drinks. It requires a medical diagnosis, usually through visual inspection of the throat, lab tests, or imaging. Strep throat can occur at any time of the year, although it tends to be more common in winter and early spring. Whenever there are groups of people in close proximity, strep bacteria can flourish.
How Common Is Strep Throat?
The California Department of Public Health quotes CDC statistics, which estimate there are several million cases of mild strep infections across the United States each year, along with as many as 13,000 cases of severe strep infections. A person can spread strep throat for up to three weeks after being infected if they have not received antibiotics. Once a patient takes antibiotics for strep throat for 24 hours or longer, they’re unlikely to spread the infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Strep Throat and Sore Throat?
A sore throat and strep share many of the same symptoms, so it’s not always easy for people to tell which one they have. A sore throat can be caused by a cold, the flu, or allergies. Sore throat treatments include drinking warm liquids, using a humidifier, using over-the-counter throat lozenges or sprays, and gargling with warm salt water to help relieve the discomfort. A simple sore throat has one or more of the following symptoms:
- Swollen or scratchy throat and tonsils
- A moderate fever
- Swollen glands
- Symptoms of a cold
- Runny nose
- Pain when talking or swallowing
The above symptoms also apply to strep throat, but watch out for these symptoms that are unique to strep:
- White patches in the back of the throat or tonsils
- A sore throat with no other cold symptoms
- Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white streaks
- Difficulty swallowing
- Tiny, red spots on the back of the roof of the mouth
- Ear infection
- An extreme rash
- Severe headaches, nausea, or vomiting
You should immediately seek a professional diagnosis if you or a loved one experiences any symptoms of strep throat.
When to See a Doctor for a Sore Throat
Although a sore throat is a relatively minor problem, it’s worth getting checked out to make sure the condition isn’t actually strep. Since strep is so contagious, it’s important to seek treatment if any of the above symptoms last more than a day. A case of strep throat will eventually resolve on its own, but there are serious risks associated with leaving it untreated, including pneumonia, scarlet fever, kidney inflammation, and rheumatic fever, among others.
A quick strep throat test will determine whether or not you have the strep A bacterial strain. About 15% of those with strep will have a negative test result, so a throat culture may be necessary for the most accurate diagnosis. If you’re found to have the bacteria, your healthcare provider will prescribe a course of antibiotics as treatment for strep throat. You should feel better within about 48 hours of taking the medication, but be sure to finish all of your prescribed dosages or the bacteria remaining in your system could mutate, becoming more resistant to antibiotics.
How Remedy Can Help
If you suspect that you or a loved one requires treatment for strep, would you rather sit in a packed waiting room with dozens of other sick people or get treatment for strep throat in the comfort of your own home? You can receive a strep throat test quickly and easily without driving to a clinic when you contact Remedy. Schedule a low-wait video visit with a provider who can assess and diagnose your condition and order a prescription if necessary. We may also elect to send a medical tech to your home to perform a rapid strep test.
We strongly believe that you should never have to choose between convenience and high-quality healthcare. Our services and our network of medical professionals make strep throat urgent care simple and painless, at costs lower than traditional methods of care—even patients with no insurance find our strep throat treatments affordable. If you aren’t satisfied with our services, we’ll be happy to return your money.
To schedule an on-demand video appointment (available 24/7) or a same-day home visit from one of Remedy’s highly qualified physicians, simply pick up your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Any necessary prescriptions will be sent directly to a pharmacy of your choice electronically. Contact us now for sore throat and strep throat relief.