A sudden, painful sore throat can be a good indication that you have strep throat. Yet a viral infection and not strep bacteria cause most sore throats. Even more surprising, if you have typical cold symptoms like a stuffy and/or runny nose and a cough, you likely do NOT have strep throat.
The most common signs of strep throat may include:
- Sudden and severe sore throat: With strep throat, sore throat pain emerges quickly and can be very painful.
- Fever above 101 degrees: The onset of strep throat is often accompanied by a high fever.
- Difficulty swallowing: It’s normal to feel pain while swallowing when you have a sore throat. But strep throat can make it difficult to swallow even liquids.
- White or yellow pus on your tonsils and/or redness on the back of throat: Use a flashlight to illuminate the back of your throat. If you see white or yellow spots on a bright red throat, you may have strep throat.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck: Lymph nodes in your neck will often feel tender and sensitive to the touch when you have strep throat.
- Lack of congestion, cough and upper-respiratory symptoms: A painful sore throat, minus other cold-like symptoms, can be a good indication that you have strep throat.
The last symptom is important to remember: the more cold symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you DON’T have strep throat.
Strep Throat Symptoms Appear 2 to 5 Days After Exposure
Strep throat symptoms do not appear immediately following contact with someone who has a strep infection. Usually, the signs of strep throat appear two to five days following exposure.
Although strep throat usually goes away within three to seven days following exposure without treatment, you remain contagious for two to three weeks.
Read that again: even though your strep throat symptoms will disappear within a week of infection, unless you are treated with antibiotics, you remain contagious for 14 to 21 days afterwards. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment of strep throat with antibiotics.
The good news is that most patients are no longer contagious (or less contagious) within 24 hours of starting to use antibiotics to fight strep throat.
Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center for Strep Throat Questions
Strep throat is painful and can become serious if left untreated. If you suspect you may have strep throat, contact our ENT doctors in Utah at 801-328-2522 for an appointment.
Read: What is Strep Throat?