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

Almost everyone gets an occasional sore throat. Allergies, dry air, the common cold, and other infections are common causes, but every year, over a million sore throats are caused by A Streptococcus bacteria, which you might know better as strep throat. 

Children are more likely than adults to contract strep throat, although you can pick up this highly contagious illness at any age. Our team here at SunSouth Medical Center in Morrow, Georgia, offer rapid strep tests and personalized treatment to help you and your family recover quickly and get back to work or school. 

About A Streptococcus bacteria

Strep throat takes its name from the streptococcal bacteria that cause it. It’s extremely contagious — you can pick up the infection by breathing the air in a room where an infected person sneezes or coughs. This hardy bacteria survives on surfaces such as tables or doorknobs, so you can also transfer it to your mouth, nose, or eyes after touching something a sick person has touched.

Fortunately, strep throat itself isn’t usually dangerous. We can treat it easily with antibiotics once diagnosed. However, if you don’t treat strep throat, the infection can spread and cause complications with many parts of your body, such as: 

In rare cases, strep infections can trigger inflammatory reactions, including rheumatic and scarlet fever, joint inflammation, and kidney inflammation.

5 signs of strep throat

Getting prompt treatment helps you recover quickly and reduce your risk of complications. If you know the signs of strep throat, you can recognize that you need to see our doctors for diagnosis and treatment. If you have a sore throat, look for these five signs of strep.

Fast onset

Strep throat develops like a fast train. You might wake up with a tickle in your throat, and by lunch time, you feel like you’re swallowing glass. Sore throats from a cold or allergies usually take longer to get worse. With the rapid onset, you should recognize that you aren’t dealing with an ordinary sore throat.

Swollen tonsils

If you still have tonsils, they react to the strep bacteria. They get red and swell, and you might notice white or yellow patches or streaks.  We use a throat swab to confirm the strep infection, but these changes in your tonsil are a common indicator of strep throat. Once we confirm your diagnosis, we prescribe antibiotics. Most patients take antibiotics for about 10 days. 

No cough

Another tell-tale sign of strep throat is the absence of a cough. If you have a cold or another upper respiratory infection, your sore throat is often a result of post-nasal drip. Because of the irritation, you cough to try to clear your throat, which further irritates the soft tissues of your throat. 

Swollen lymph nodes

Your immune system is your defense against illnesses like strep throat. When it kicks in and starts to fight the infection, your lymph nodes swell. The sides of the front of your neck and underside corners of your jaw feel painful and swollen when you have strep. Combined with the other strep throat sympoms, this swelling and tenderness is another indicator of an active strep infection.


Another sign that your immune system is fighting infection is a fever. Your temperature rises when your immune system works to fight off an infection. Sore throats due to allergies or colds don’t cause fevers. 

In addition to these common signs of strep throat, you might have additional symptoms, such as a headache, rash, and nausea.

Strep throat is uncomfortable, but it’s also easy to diagnose and treat. If you think you have strep throat, give us a call, or schedule an appointment online. We provide quick, in-office strep tests and can prescribe antibiotics to help you body fight off the bacterial infection quickly.

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