Strep throat is a sore throat caused by a bacterium called streptococcus (strep) that can be treated through antibiotics. Common symptoms of strep throat include pinkeye, runny nose, skin rash, cough, hoarseness, diarrhea and more. Complications of untreated strep throat include middle ear infections, meningitis, pneumonia, rheumatic fever, and more.
Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
While many people use the terms sore throat, tonsillitis, and strep throat
interchangeably, there are significant clinical differences among these
conditions. Understanding the differences can give patients a better idea of how
and when to be concerned and when to seek advice from a physician.
Strep throat is only one of many possible causes of throat infection and sore
throat. While strep throat is most common in children and adolescents, it can
affect people of all ages. It may however, have different signs and symptoms
depending upon the patient's age.
What causes a sore throat?
A sore throat may have many causes. The most common cause of a sore throat is an infection of the throat and the surrounding structures. Any inflammation or infection of the pharynx, tonsils, esophagus (the food tube), or larynx (the top opening part of the windpipe) may cause sore throat symptoms.
What are the tonsils and tonsillitis?
The tonsils are red, oval clumps of tissue located at the back and to the sides of the throat. When viewed microscopically, they appear very similar to lymph gland/lymph node tissue. Their location allows the tonsils to intercept germs as they enter the body through the nose and throat. They contain infection-fighting cells and antibodies (infection-fighting proteins in the body) that help stop the spread of the germs further into the body.
Tonsillitis refers to conditions in which the tonsils become red, sore, and swollen because of inflammation. The term "tonsillitis" does not imply a specific cause of a sore throat. There are many causes of inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsillitis is a common cause of sore throat.
Pain in the throat may be caused by a variety of inflammations of the larynx, pharynx, or tonsils. Throat soreness is typically associated with painful swallowing. Inflammation of the pharynx (pharyngitis) is the most common form of sore throat and is usually from virus infection.