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How Can I Tell If a Sore Throat Is Strep Throat?

Symptoms of strep throat are more severe than a normal sore throat.
Pediatricians can examine a child to check for strep throat.
A crossection of the human head, including the throat.
A sore throat accompanied by high fever may indicate strep throat.
Antibiotics are effective against the bacteria that causes strep throat but not for all sore throats.
A throat culture may be necessary to determine the presence of strep throat.
Article Details
  • Written By: Patti Kate
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 24 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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Symptoms of a strep throat, which is caused by a bacterial strain of streptococcus, are more severe and produce a higher fever than an ordinary sore throat. In the case of a strep infection, the symptoms of pain and soreness will typically not subside without antibiotic treatment prescribed by a doctor. If there are no cold symptoms, such as sneezing or runny nose, this increases the likelihood of it being strep. The best way to determine if a sore throat is strep throat is by having your doctor take a throat culture.

Although most sore throats cause inflammation, a good way to determine if a sore throat is strep throat is by examining the inside of the back of the patient's throat. If you or your child are exhibiting symptoms of strep, but you are unsure of that diagnosis, try looking at the throat in a well-lit area. Lighting is important to determine the degree of redness, which indicates inflammation. If you notice white spots or patches located on the sides of the throat or tonsil area, there is a possibility it is strep.

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Strep throat is more common in youngsters attending school than in adults. This is due in part to the child's immature immune system and the ease with which diseases are spread among classmates. Any person can contract the infection, however, because it is highly contagious. If you suspect your child may have contracted a strep infection, a good idea is to have his pediatrician examine him. If the doctor is unsure whether the sore throat is strep throat, he may opt to take a throat culture.

A throat culture is a simple and painless routine way of detecting the presence of the bacteria that is known to cause strep infections. This will unequivocally determine if the sore throat is strep throat. The doctor will typically use a swab and lightly dab it in back of the throat. A laboratory culture will be made, which will enable the technician to determine the presence of a growth of streptococcus bacteria. In some cases, however, the doctor may be able to make the diagnosis of strep throat by an office examination.

If the doctor determines that bothersome sore throat is a strep throat, he will most likely prescribe a course of antibiotics. This would be to prevent any complications from setting in, such as rheumatic fever, which can cause damage to the heart muscle. Other serious conditions can result from untreated strep infections, such as other heart-related issues and kidney damage or failure.

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