In general, signs and symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Throat pain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots on the soft or hard palate — the area at the back of the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen, tender lymph glands (nodes) in your neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Stomachache and sometimes vomiting, especially in younger children
  • Fatigue

It's possible for you or your child to have many of these signs and symptoms, but not have strep throat. The cause of these signs and symptoms could be a viral infection or some other kind of illness. That's why your doctor generally tests specifically for strep throat.

It's also possible to have the bacteria that can cause strep in your throat without having a sore throat. Some people are carriers of strep, which means they can pass the bacteria on to others, but the bacteria are not currently making them sick.

When to see a doctor

Call your doctor if you or your child has any of these signs and symptoms:

  • A sore throat accompanied by tender, swollen lymph glands (nodes)
  • A sore throat that lasts longer than 48 hours
  • A fever higher than 101 F (38.3 C) in older children, or any fever lasting longer than 48 hours
  • A sore throat accompanied by a rash
  • Problems breathing or difficulty swallowing anything, including saliva
  • If strep has been diagnosed, a lack of improvement after taking antibiotics for 24 to 48 hours
  • A fever — or pain or swelling in the joints, shortness of breath or a rash — after a strep infection, even as long as three weeks after infection; these can be indicators of rheumatic fever
  • Cola-colored urine more than a week after a strep infection, as this may indicate kidney inflammation (poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis)
Dec. 20, 2012