Strep Throat
(Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, and Treatment)

Strep Throat Summary
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.
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Strep throat facts

  • Most throat infections are caused by viruses.
  • The symptoms of strep throat include fever, sore throat, swollen and often tender lymph nodes in the neck, headache, and upset stomach.
  • The diagnosis of strep throat is confirmed by a throat culture or rapid-strep test.
  • Strep throat is cured by antibiotic therapy.
  • If left untreated, strep throat may cause heart and kidney problems.

What is strep throat?

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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 what is 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.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/16/2014

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Sore throat

Strep Throat Symptoms

Sore Throat (Pharyngitis) Symptoms

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.