What is strep throat?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Strep throat is an infection due to the bacteria streptococcus, which is unusual in adults but common in children. It's a contagious infection, and once you've caught it you might experience a painful and irritating feeling in your throat. Your tonsils may be swollen and extremely red in color. You may see red and white patches in the throat. And instead of cold symptoms that typically accompany a sore throat, you may also have a fever, rash, chills, headache, and an upset stomach. Some children with strep throat may also experience vomiting. If you suspect strep throat, you will want to see your doctor to receive a course of antibiotics to treat the infection.
Picture of strep throat
Strep throat is a sore throat caused by streptococcal bacteria. It is more common in children ages four to 11 and is less common in older children and adults. Strep throat is diagnosed by a throat culture taken at a physician's office. The doctor will swab the back of your throat to make the culture. Symptoms of strep throat include a sore throat accompanied by a fever (over 101°F), a white or yellow coating of the tonsils and/or swollen glands in the neck. A strep throat should be treated with antibiotics to prevent rheumatic fever.
Diana K. Blythe, MD

Strep throat is a throat infection caused by bacteria, called streptococcus pyogenes. Strep pyogenes, or Group A strep, causes a sore throat and if not treated can lead to scarlet fever or rheumatic heart disease. If your child has a sore throat, please get them checked to make sure it is not strep throat. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.