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.
Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.
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.