Strep versus Sore Throat: Learn the Difference Here

When school is in session, outbreaks of strep throat can be common. Determining whether this common childhood infection is actually strep or just a sore throat can be challenging. Some parents may not be sure what the differences are or how to determine when to take a child to the doctor for treatment. Here are some things to keep in mind when weighing the differences between strep versus sore throat.

To start, a sore throat is generally caused by a virus. Usually, it will manifest along with other symptoms such as sneezing and a runny nose. There is no medicine that will cure a viral infection, so it generally just has to run its course. While they may be similar, there are marked variations between a strep and a virally induced sore throat.

Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection. It is contagious, and this is one reason it spreads so quickly, particularly among little ones. Sneezing, coughing, and inadequate handwashing are some ways the infection can be spread. Generally, an infection leading to strep throat is treated with antibiotics. Symptoms may include fever, swollen tonsils, nausea, difficulty swallowing, and white and red patches on the throat. When these symptoms present themselves, it is a good idea to call the pediatrician. A swab test can be done to determine if there is in fact a strep infection. Plenty of rest, fluids, and a course of antibiotics are generally all that is needed to have children back to a normal routine.

The question often arises as to whether a child should have their tonsils removed in cases of frequent strep infection. Research has shown that this may be advisable when infections occur more than seven times in one year, or several times in two consecutive years. Talking to your pediatrician is best when making such a decision.

Knowing the differences between strep versus sore throat can save parents an emergency visit expense, but when in doubt always consult a medical professional.