Strep Throat: Most Common Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Not only does fall mark the beginning of cold and flu season, it also rings in strep throat season. While strep throat can occur at any time of year, most cases occur between late fall and early spring when children are in school and people are more likely to be spending time indoors with each other.
With an increased prevalence of strep coinciding with colds, flu and COVID-19 going around, it can be hard to tell when a sore throat is actually strep throat.

Strep Throat Symptoms

Strep throat is caused by a specific bacterial infection, group A Streptococcus, whereas viruses–or just irritation–are the cause of most sore throats. Both strep and sore throat are characterized by pain in the throat. However, there are some symptoms that may accompany strep that can differ from run-of-the-mill sore throat:

  • Throat Pain

Throat pain that rapidly comes on, rather than slowly gets worse over time

  • Fever

Strep throat symptoms are often accompanied by a fever

  • Pus

White bumps and/or splotches of pus on swollen tonsils

  • Red Spots On The Roof Of The Mouth

Reddening of the tonsils and red spots anywhere on the roof of the mouth

  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes (found near the front of the neck) becoming enlarged

Children sometimes also experience nausea, vomiting and headache due to strep. In addition, swallowing can be painful for anyone with strep throat, although the same can be said for some sore throats due to other causes.

How Strep Throat Can Affect Adults And Children

Sore throats are generally an equal opportunity offender. Men and women of all ages are susceptible. While anyone also can get strep throat, children between the ages of five and 15 are at much higher risk. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to three in 10 cases of sore throat in children are caused by strep. In adults, it’s only about one in 10.

Since strep throat is typically spread by droplets from coughs and sneezes, crowded classrooms and day care facilities are an ideal environment for its spread. It also is why parents of small children and individuals who work in these settings are the adults at greatest risk of getting it.

Strep Throat Tests And Treatment

The Emergency Center has the rapid tests needed to diagnose strep throat, as well as the prescription antibiotics needed to knock it out quickly. While addressing a sore throat at home may be a good first step, if strep throat is suspected, it’s important to get it diagnosed and treated for several reasons:

  • Highly contagious – it is easily spread so precautions may need to be taken
  • Rheumatic fever – in kids, untreated strep can travel through the bloodstream to the heart and cause serious future complications
  • Glomerulonephritis – a kidney inflammation sometimes caused by the body’s immune response to strep throat
  • Other infections – sinus infections, ear infections and abscesses (pus pockets) forming near the tonsils which may require more extensive treatment

While some of these are serious potential complications, the good news is that strep throat is highly treatable once properly diagnosed.

Enjoy life. We’ll be here for the bumps along the way.
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The Emergency Center

San Antonio
11320 Alamo Ranch Pkwy
San Antonio, TX 78253

Phone: 210-485-3644