Have you ever had a sore throat that just wouldn’t go away? You’re not alone! We’re here to talk about something that might surprise you – not all sore throats are created equal. Some are caused by viruses, but others can be due to something called strep throat, which is a bacterial infection. Let’s dive into the world of throat discomfort and learn how to tell the difference! We’ll also give you tips on when to come in to Swift Urgent Care to get medical attention for your sore throat.
What’s a Sore Throat Anyway?
So, what’s a sore throat, you ask? Well, it’s just what it sounds like – a throat that feels scratchy, painful, or irritated. It may also hurt to swallow or speak. Many times, a sore throat is caused by viruses, like the common cold or the flu. These viral sore throats tend to get better on their own within a week or so.
What is Strep Throat?
Sometimes, a sore throat can be caused by bacteria, specifically a bacteria called Streptococcus. When it’s a bacterial infection caused by streptococcus, it’s known as “strep throat.” Strep throat isn’t as common as viral sore throats, but it can be more severe and needs proper treatment, because bacterial infections, if left untreated, can lead to bigger problems.
How Are Strep and a Sore Throat Different?
Here’s the part you may have been wondering about: how do you tell if you’ve got a regular sore throat or strep throat?
- Sore Throat: It often starts with a runny or stuffy nose, cough, or sneezing. You might feel tired, but that’s usually it. Your throat might be scratchy or painful.
- Strep Throat: It often hits suddenly and feels like a really bad sore throat. You might have a high fever and swollen lymph nodes in your neck. Often, you’ll see white or yellow spots in the back of your throat, coating your tonsils.
Why It Matters
Knowing the difference between a viral sore throat and strep throat matters because they’re treated differently. Viral sore throats usually improve with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter remedies. But strep throat needs antibiotics to heal and avoid potential complications.
When to See a Doctor
If you or your child has a sore throat and it’s severe or lasts more than a couple of days, it’s a good idea to see a healthcare expert like our providers at Swift. They can do a simple test to check for strep throat. The test for strep throat is simple and painless–all you need to do is open your mouth wide, and the healthcare provider will swab your throat with a cotton swab that looks like a long Q-tip! In just a few minutes, your provider will be able to tell you whether your sore throat is caused by strep.
Whether it’s a viral sore throat or strep throat, the best way to avoid getting sick in the first place is to:
- Wash your hands frequently
- Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze and encourage others to do so as well
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Don’t share food or drinks with others
- You may also consider wearing a mask or face covering when traveling on public transit or while in crowded areas
Summing it up:
So, there you have it, not all sore throats are the same. While viral sore throats usually get better on their own, strep throat needs special attention in order to spot them from making you really sick. If you’re not sure what’s causing your throat discomfort, it’s always best to reach out to a healthcare provider. They’ll help you get on the road to recovery and back to feeling your best.
Remember, it’s all about taking care of your health, and that’s what we’re here for at Swift Urgent Care. If you ever have concerns about your health, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Stay well, friends!