As a parent, you’ll navigate dozens of illnesses in your children, who can get 8-10 colds per year before the age of two, and up to a dozen a year once they start preschool and kindergarten. But knowing the difference between a cold and strep throat can make all the difference, sparing your child (or, on rare occasions, yourself) from a lengthy illness and preventing them from spreading the infection to others. And there are telltale signs that strep throat may be in play.
At Express Lane Urgent Care, our expert team of healthcare providers offers the services you need to keep you and your family in the pink of health. From minor injuries to respiratory problems, we help people in the Turlock, California, community get the treatments they need as quickly as possible. And this is especially important when it comes to strep throat.
To better arm yourself, it’s helpful to be familiar with what strep throat is and how to spot the signs.
Bacterial versus viral
Before we describe the top symptoms, it’s important that we review the most important clue that you’re dealing with strep throat, which isn’t something you’ll spot with the naked eye. Most sore throats come as part and parcel of a cold, which is either a virus or develops because of allergies. Strep throat, on the other hand, is a bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils caused by group A Streptococcus.
These distinctions are important because each is treated quite differently. And the best way to figure out what you’re dealing with is to come in and see us for a rapid strep test, which is an incredibly quick and easy, on-the-spot diagnostic.
It’s also important to note that strep throat is far more common in children, but adults can still be infected.
The top 7 signs of strep throat
To figure out whether you might be dealing with strep throat, watch out for these signs:
1. Sudden onset
Strep throat develops rapidly, seemingly coming on out of the blue. Sore throats, on the other hand, usually develop gradually and as part of other symptoms, such as a runny nose or a cough, which aren’t hallmarks of strep throat.
Strep throat can range in severity, but moderate-to-severe cases can cause considerable pain and difficulty swallowing.
If you or your child has visible red spots at the back of the throat or on the roof of the mouth, the odds are that you’re dealing with strep.
If you notice white strings of pus in the back of the mouth, that’s a clear sign of a strep infection.
5. Fever and body aches
Since strep throat is a bacterial infection, it’s not uncommon to experience fever and body aches. These developments are good indicators that your body is attempting to fight off an infection.
6. Swollen lymph nodes
Another sign that your body is fighting infection is swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
7. Nausea and vomiting
Small children with vulnerable immune systems may respond to strep throat with nausea and vomiting.
At the first signs of any of these symptoms, you should get in to see us so that we can run that rapid strep test we discussed earlier. If we confirm that it’s strep throat, we’ll get you set up with a course of antibiotics, as well as recommendations for keeping you or your child comfortable while the medications got to work.
If you’re in any doubt about whether you’re dealing with a sore throat or strep throat, please feel free to give us a call or come in during business hours.