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
- Stomachache and sometimes vomiting, especially in younger children
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:
Dec. 20, 2012
- 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)
- Sore throat. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/getsmart/antibiotic-use/uri/sore-throat.html. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Pichichero ME. Complications of streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Sore throats. American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. http://www.entnet.org/HealthInformation/soreThroats.cfm. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Alter SJ, et al. Common childhood bacterial infections. Current Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care. 2011;41:256.
- Strep throat. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://www.niaid.nih.gov/topics/strepThroat/Pages/Default.aspx. Accessed Sept. 18, 2012.
- Kliegman RM, et al. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/208746819-6/0/1608/0.html. Accessed Sept. 20, 2012.
- Bope ET, et al. Conn's Current Therapy. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4377-0986-5..C2009-0-38984-9--TOP&isbn=978-1-4377-0986-5&about=true&uniqId=236797353-5. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Group A streptococcal (GAS) disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/groupastreptococcal_g.htm. Accessed Sept. 19, 2012.
- Sore throat? Know when to call the doctor. American Osteopathic Association. http://www.osteopathic.org/osteopathic-health/about-your-health/health-conditions-library/general-health/Pages/sore-throat.aspx. Accessed Sept. 20, 2012.
- Pichichero ME. PANDAS: Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorder associated with group A streptococci. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Clinical practice guideline for the diagnosis and management of group A streptococcal pharyngitis: 2012 Update by the Infectious Diseases Society of America.Infectious Disease Society of America. Arlington, Va. http://www.idsociety.org/uploadedFiles/IDSA/Guidelines-Patient_Care/PDF_Library/2012%20Strep%20Guideline.pdf. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Pichichero ME. Treatment and prevention of streptococcal tonsillopharyngitis. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 17, 2012.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 2, 2012.
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