Worried Your Sore Throat May be Strep? Top 5 Signs to Look For

A sore throat can leave you feeling run down, hoarse, and unable to eat or speak normally. Luckily, most sore throats are caused by viruses and go away on their own.

On the other hand, strep throat is caused by bacteria and requires antibiotic treatment. At Physicians Medical Urgent Care in San Jose, California, Dr. Sveltlana Burkhead and Dr. Ines Munoz De Laborde are experts in diagnosing sore throats and strep infections.

If you see any of the 5 following signs, it might be time to come to our offices for a quick in-office test. 

1. Sore throat without a runny nose, hoarseness, cough, or pink eye

Viral infections are usually behind most sore throats. Because viruses often attack multiple areas of the respiratory system, they often cause other cold and flu-like symptoms as well. 

If you have a sore throat in addition to a runny nose, hoarseness, cough, or pink eye, it’s likely to be a viral infection. We may prescribe you some medicines to help with the symptoms but viral infections usually resolve on their own with a bit of rest. 

On the other hand, if you have a sore throat without any of the above symptoms, it might be strep throat caused by the group A streptococci bacteria. 

2. Swollen lymph nodes in the neck

Your lymph nodes work to filter the lymphatic system which is involved in immune responses to infection. That's because your lymph nodes often get swollen and tender in response to infection. 

While there are multiple lymph nodes located throughout your body, lymph nodes usually swell up in response to local infections nearby. Swollen lymph nodes in your neck often suggest a throat infection like strep throat. 

3. Red, swollen tonsils often with white patches or streaks

Strep bacteria often attacks the tonsils as well as the throat, causing streaks or patches of pus to develop. While viral infections can sometimes cause tonsil swelling (tonsillitis), they are unlikely to cause the white streaks and patches associated with strep throat. 

4. Red spots on the roof of the mouth 

Tiny red bumps on the roof of your mouth care called petechiae and are a common symptom of a strep throat infection. These bumps are caused by small capillaries in the roof of your mouth leaking and are often caused by serious infections.

5. High fever or rash

Low fevers (less than 101℉) are sometimes associated with viral sore throats, but high fevers and rashes are almost always signs of strep infections. Left untreated, these high fevers can lead to a condition called rheumatic fever which can cause long-term damage to your body.  

Similarly, if you notice a sudden fine pink rash or a bright red throat, it might be a cause of another strep complication called scarlet fever. While scarlet fever can usually be easily treated with antibiotics, it’s important to see us immediately if you notice any of these signs. 

It’s easy to confuse viral sore throats with strep throats, but they require different treatments. If you are experiencing the above symptoms, we can confirm your strep diagnosis with a simple swab and send you home with antibiotics to clear up the infection. 

If you think you might have strep throat, call the Physicians Medical Urgent Care team at 888-265-2120 or book an appointment online to get your throat diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

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