How Can I Tell Between Strep Throat and COVID-19?

October 1, 2023

Colds, the flu, COVID-19 and strep throat are all common illnesses in the fall and winter months. Since we spend so much time indoors in close proximity to each other at this time of year, these illnesses can spread quickly.

Even if you get enough sleep, eat well and take care of yourself, there is always the chance that you will get sick at some point. And many of these illnesses share similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell what is making you sick on your own.

Our AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga team is here to help! We break down a few of these illnesses below, so read on to learn more.

How Are Strep Throat, the Flu and COVID-19 Similar?

All three illnesses are infections, but they are caused by different things. COVID-19 is viral and caused by the SARS-COV2 virus. The flu is also viral but caused by a strain of the influenza virus. Strep throat is bacterial and caused by the group A streptococcus bacteria. The transmission for all three is the same, though. Touching your mouth or face after touching an infected surface or interacting with an infected person can make you sick.

Since these three illnesses are infections, your body will launch a similar immune response at the start of your symptoms. A fever, headache, body aches and a sore throat are all common symptoms at the beginning of your illness. This is why getting tested right away can help you feel better faster.

Different Rapid Tests at AFC

  • COVID-19
  • Influenza
  • Strep throat

Does Strep Throat Have Different Symptoms?

Strep throat symptoms will typically be more focused in your mouth and throat than in the rest of your body, so severe pain when swallowing and white patches on the back of your throat are typically indicative of strep throat. Thankfully, antibiotics are a great treatment option for strep!

COVID-19 and the flu share more similar symptoms, but the main difference is exposure to symptom timelines. The flu will typically appear within two to three days after exposure and can last for about a week. COVID-19 can take up to two weeks before symptoms start and can last for two weeks or longer. In either case, coming to see us for a rapid test can help us determine the proper treatment plan for you.

Symptoms That Can Indicate COVID-19 or the Flu

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

Need help determining what is making you sick? Stop by AFC Urgent Care Chattanooga for a rapid test.

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