Sore Throat* & Strep Throat

Strep throat treatment may be needed if you are experiencing sore throat pain, scratchiness, or irritation of the throat that often worsens when you swallow. The most common cause of a sore throat (pharyngitis) is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. A sore throat caused by a virus resolves on its own.

Strep throat (streptococcal infection), a less common type of sore throat caused by bacteria, requires treatment with antibiotics to prevent complications. Other less common causes of sore throat might require more complex treatment.

Strep Throat Treatment

Viruses are the most common cause of a sore throat. However, strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep).

How You Get Strep Throat

Group A strep live in the nose and throat and can easily spread to other people. It is important to know that some infected people do not have symptoms or seem sick. People who are infected spread the bacteria by coughing or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria.

People can get sick if they:

  • Breathe in those droplets
  • Touch something with droplets on it and then touch their mouth or nose
  • Drink from the same glass or eat from the same plate as a sick person
  • Touch sores on the skin caused by group A strep (impetigo)

Pain and Fever without a Cough Are Common Signs and Symptoms

In general, strep throat is a mild infection, but it can be very painful. You may need strep throat treatment if you are experiencing the following symptoms.

  • Sore throat that can start very quickly
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny, red spots (petechiae — pronounced pi-TEE-kee-eye) on the roof of the mouth (the soft or hard palate)
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck
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