step-throat

What exactly is strep throat and is it any different from a sore throat?

January 27, 2022

What is the difference between strep throat and a sore throat?

A sore throat is a general term referring to a scratchy or painful feeling in the throat. A sore throat can have a number of different causes.

Strep throat is often first identified due to a sore throat, but strep throat is specifically caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus infecting the throat and tonsils.

How do I know if I have strep throat?

You may have strep throat if your throat is raw and it hurts to swallow. The sore throat usually comes on very fast.

Other symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain/vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Red spots on the roof of your mouth
  • Red/swollen tonsils


Strep throat usually does not come with a runny nose, cough, or red eyes. These symptoms are usually signs of a virus or allergy.

Did you know?

  • Strep throat is more common in children ages 5 through 15 years old
  • Strep throat is caused by bacteria called group A streptococcus
  • The bacteria that causes strep throat is extremely contagious
  • Diagnosing strep throat usually requires a throat swab

How can you get strep throat?

Strep throat is highly contagious and spreads when someone who is infected with the bacteria coughs or sneezes and releases the bacteria into the air. If you come into contact with the bacteria you can be infected and get strep throat.

Good hygiene, including hand washing, is very important to lower the chance of spreading infections like strep throat.

How do you diagnose strep throat?

Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and they can also test for strep throat using a rapid test. A cotton swab is used to take a sample from the back of your throat. In a few minutes your doctor can tell you if the swab tested positive for strep throat.

How is strep throat treated?

Once strep throat has been confirmed, your doctor will probably recommend antibiotics to kill the bacteria that is causing the strep throat. Remember that even if you start to feel better you should continue to take your antibiotics as prescribed. This is the best way to kill the bacteria that caused your strep throat. If you do not complete your antibiotic course the bacteria can survive in your throat and your symptoms can return.

Rest and over-the-counter medications can also help you recover and ease your symptoms.

Can someone at Pulse On Call help me?

Of course! Schedule an online doctors appointment and one of our team members will be happy to help. Our licensed Canadian physicians can help diagnose and can also provide prescriptions online.

If additional testing is required, we can still help! Our doctors can help find a nearby facility to help carry out any required testing or refer you to a local specialist.

The best part? You can do it from the comfort of your own home and it’s free if you have OHIP coverage!

*Please Note:

Please note that all information within this posting is up-to-date at the time of publication.