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What are the symptoms of strep throat?

Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Family Practitioner

Strep throat may cause pain when swallowing, extreme redness of the throat and tonsils (may appear in spots on the throat), and swollen and tender lymph nodes on your neck. These symptoms may sound like any sore throat due to the common cold, but with strep throat you won't have a runny nose, sneezing or coughing. Instead, a fever, rash, chills, stomach uneasiness or even vomiting might accompany the pain you feel in your throat.

Common symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Sore throat, usually starting quickly
  • Severe pain when swallowing
  • A fever (101 degrees Fahrenheit or above)
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots (petechiae) on the soft or hard palate—the area at the back of the roof of the mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Body aches
  • Rash
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Having a sore throat is common when it's cold and wet outside. Learn how to tell a sore throat from strep throat as Dr. Oz explains the differences in this video.

There's a fairly common bacterial infection of the throat called "strep throat." If strep throat isn't treated with antibiotics, it can lead to more serious problems. When to suspect strep? Here are a few clues:

  • Maybe strep: a sore throat without cold symptoms or a sore throat with fever, headache, sunburn-like rash, stomachache or vomiting. If you have a sore throat like this, see a doctor. The only way to know for sure if you have strep throat is to have a lab test done.
  • Probably not strep: a mild sore throat that comes with a cough or a runny or stuffy nose.

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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.