COVID-19 vs Strep Throat: What Could My Sore Throat Be?!

February 1, 2024

Older man going to AFC Urgent Care Natick for strep throat testing and treatment

"I heard strep throat is a symptom of COVID-19?" This question might be making rounds on the internet, but it's essential to clarify that strep throat and COVID-19 are distinct illnesses. The key difference lies in their causes – strep throat results from a bacterial infection, while COVID-19 is a viral infection.

Understanding this can be perplexing, but not every sore throat is indicative of COVID-19. At AFC Urgent Care Natick, we encounter patients with sore throats, but it's crucial to recognize that they don't all point to COVID-19 cases. We're here to guide you through distinguishing symptoms and taking appropriate steps when faced with a sore throat, helping you discern between COVID-19 and strep throat. It's important to remember that not every ailment is linked to COVID-19.

Strep Throat Targets the Throat and Tonsils

If you experience a sore throat without respiratory symptoms, it could likely be strep throat. Sensitivity to touch in the lymph nodes or a sensation akin to swallowing "broken glass" are significant indicators of strep throat. Look out for these strep throat symptoms:

  • Red, sore throat with white patches on throat and tongue
  • Sudden fever
  • Chills
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Swollen glands in the neck
  • Fatigue

Strep throat, caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, is highly contagious. The transmission usually occurs through respiratory droplets or direct contact. If respiratory symptoms are present, it's more likely a viral infection like COVID-19, which often manifests with these respiratory symptoms:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Congestion
  • New loss of smell and/or taste

Is Strep Throat Treatable?

Unlike some winter illnesses that resolve on their own, strep throat necessitates antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria responsible for the infection.

While undergoing antibiotic treatment, you can also try these home remedies:

  • Drink warm liquids like tea
  • Gargle with warm saltwater and vinegar several times a day (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water).
  • Consume cold liquids or suck on popsicles.
  • Use a cool-mist vaporizer or humidifier to soothe a dry and painful throat.
  • Consider over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen.

AFC Tip: Complete your antibiotic prescription even if you feel better; premature discontinuation could lead to the resurgence of more resistant bacteria.

Get Tested for Strep Throat at AFC Urgent Care Natick

Testing for strep, COVID-19, and other winter illnesses is convenient at AFC Urgent Care Natick. We provide rapid molecular tests for COVID-19 and rapid strep tests seven days a week, no appointment necessary, along with 'back to work' COVID Antigen tests. If your test confirms strep throat, we can promptly initiate antibiotic treatment.

AFC Urgent Care Southington is available every day of the week, welcoming both scheduled appointments and walk-ins. We accept most insurance plans to make healthcare accessible for everyone. Our online payment system is user-friendly, providing you with a hassle-free way to settle your bill with just a few clicks. Count on us for reliable, prompt, and convenient healthcare services tailored to your requirements.


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