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Strep Throat vs. Sore Throat

Waking up with an itchy or irritated throat is no doubt a frustrating feeling. It can be easy to write your symptoms off as a sore throat and continue on with your day, but it’s important to be careful because your symptoms could also be early signs of strep throat (Streptococcal Pharyngitis) which is easy to spread to people around you. Strep throat, which is an infection due to streptococcus bacteria, requires medical attention, while a sore throat can be treated with more simple at-home remedies. With strep throat, the sore throat is often more severe and persists longer than symptoms of a sore throat due to a common cold.
Strep Throat Symptoms:

  • Fever of 101 or higher
  • Sore throat without accompanying cold-like symptoms (coughing congestion, etc.)
  • Headaches
  • Swollen lymph nodes toward the back of your neck
  • Red or swollen tonsils, often with white dots on them
  • Nausea or occasional vomiting

Strep Throat Treatments:

  • Strep test by a medical professional
  • Prescribed antibiotics (will likely have you feeling better within 48 hours)

Sore Throat Symptoms:

  • Swollen or scratchy throat
  • Cough or other cold-like symptoms
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Moderate fever

Sore Throat Treatments:

  • Try to gargle with warm salt water to help reduce swelling in the throat (1:5 ratio of salt to water)
  • Cough/throat drops
  • Throat sprays (containing phenol)
  • Honey and lemon tea or broth soup

A sore throat is often the first sign of a cold, so don’t panic! However, it’s important to be on the safe side since strep throat is very contagious and could easily be spread to your family and friends. If you think you may have strep throat, visit your local First Care Clinic for a strep test. Find the closest location to you on our website.