Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Do I have strep throat?"
I have a sore throat and think that it might be strep. I had strep throat once before but my ears hurt and I couldn't really talk. I don't have that this time around, just a sore throat. But is it strep?
I am sorry to hear that your throat is hurting. There are two potential types of throat infections. First, there are throat infections caused by viruses, which are the majority of throat infections. Typically a viral throat infection will progress to have other symptoms such as cough, runny nose, or congestion. Second, there are throat infections caused by bacteria, like strep throat. Unlike viral throat infections, the sore throat in strep throat is typically more severe, and there tends not to be much cough or runny nose. The glands in the neck may also be more swollen than they would be with a viral throat infection. It is important to tell the difference between the two types of throat infections, because viral throat infections do not require treatment with antibiotics, whereas strep throat infection do. There is no straight forward way for you to tell the difference between the two types of throat infections without the help of a doctor. Therefore, I recommend that you go see your primary care doctor. They will be able to examine your throat, and they may decide to take a culture to look for strep throat. Based on what they find, they can tell you if this is or is not strep throat and, if so, they can provide you with antibiotics.
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