We all know that raw, scratchy feeling in the back of the throat. The cause may be as simple as dry winter air, seasonal allergies, or a cold coming on.
But sometimes the culprit is strep, a bacterial infection that can be dangerous if untreated. Strep can affect your heart or other organs. It’s rare, but it can lead to serious illness.
Only your doctor can make a firm diagnosis.
According to WebMD, here are a few warning signs that that supposed sore throat might actually be strep.
Look for Unusual Spots
A peek down the hatch can give clues to what’s causing the pain. Are your tonsils red and swollen? Are there white patches on them or in the back of your throat? Is there pus? If so, it’s not strep for sure — other conditions also cause these signs — but it’s clear that something’s wrong, and you should call the doc.
Are There Cold Symptoms?
Coughing and postnasal drip can make your throat feel bad, but you’re less likely to get them with strep. A virus causes the congestion, runny nose, sore throat, and other symptoms that come with a cold.
How High Is the Fever?
Colds sometimes cause a fever, but it’s generally low grade. A sore throat with a temperature over 101 F raises the likelihood of strep. But you can have strep even with little or no fever.
Are the Lymph Nodes Swollen?
Your lymph nodes are there to trap and destroy germs. When part of your body is infected, the nearest lymph nodes spring into action and swell as they carry out their job. They’re more likely to be swollen and tender when you have strep.
How Much Does It Hurt?
A sore throat caused by a cold can be plenty painful, but it usually goes away after a couple of days. Strep throat tends to hurt worse and last longer. The pain may be so bad that it’s hard to swallow. In some cases, strep may cause nausea, a lack of appetite, or pain in your head and belly.
Is There a Rash?
One less common sign of strep is a rough, sandpaper-like rash. It starts on your neck and chest, then spreads to the rest of your body. When this happens, the infection is known as scarlet fever. It looks scary, but it will start to fade after a few days. Antibiotics can help.
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