Is It Strep Throat?

It’s happened to all of us – you woke up with a dry, scratchy throat that’s getting worse by the minute. In that moment, it’s difficult to know whether it’s a sore throat that will go away on its own or something more. Is it just a viral cold, allergies – or a bacteria that requires antibiotics to treat?    

Strep throat is caused by a contagious bacteria called streptococcus pyogenes. The condition can be spread through physical contact from a person or surface (like a doorknob or countertop) and through the air when someone coughs or sneezes. Although anyone can contract strep throat, it’s more common in children and often seen in the winter months.  

Most of the time, a sore throat is the result of allergies and sinus drainage that are irritating the back of the throat. Even if you don’t have a bacterial infection, a sore throat can be painful.

Over the counter medications and home remedies like drinking warm fluids, gargling with salt water and using a humidifier at night will help ease symptoms.

Strep throat is often more intense and comes on very quickly. Individuals with the condition often have pain and difficulty swallowing combined with a persistent increased temperature at or a near a fever 100.4° F. Other symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Headache and body aches
  • Nausea or vomiting, especially in children
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Streaks of pus or white patches on tonsils
  • White or yellow coating on the throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Small red spots on the roof of the mouth

A Simple Strep Test

Testing for strep throat involves a quick throat swab. Within a few minutes, the test will show whether your sore throat is caused by a strep infection or other germs or viruses that don’t require antibiotics. 

Although your physician may prescribe an antibiotic with a positive strep test, the condition typically goes away within three to seven days – with or without antibiotics. Without treatment, you may remain contagious with the bacteria, and for children it can cause severe health risks if left untreated. These include scarlet fever or other rheumatic conditions. If you have a positive strep test, antibiotics can help prevent the spread of the bacteria to others.

When the cause is a common cold, or the result of throat irritation due to allergies, symptoms may linger until the source of the problem is eliminated.  It can be hard to know what over-the-counter medications are right for your specific symptoms. That’s why it’s important to talk with your pharmacist to get recommendations and find the most effective symptom relief.  When things continue to worsen or don’t improve after several days, a visit to an urgent care center is appropriate.

You don’t need an appointment at Piedmont Urgent Care – walk-ins are welcome! We also help you avoid the long waits with our book ahead option. Choosing Piedmont Urgent Care means you get the medical attention and relief you need quickly and conveniently. Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and most private insurance plans are accepted. We also offer competitive self-pay rates for patients without insurance.