Top 5 Differences Between COVID-19 and Strep Throat

February 1, 2024

Woman showing symptoms of strep throat and is being diagnosed at AFC Urgent Care Southington for strep throat test

As winter sets in, the prevalence of sore throats raises concerns about whether the symptoms point to COVID-19 or strep throat. There can be confusion because both have similarities. For instance, Covid-19 can cause a sore throat, but it doesn’t mean it’s strep. 

AFC Urgent Care Southington has created a guide to help you understand the five key differences between Covid-19 and Strep Throat. 

1. Causes: Viral vs. Bacterial Origins

One of the primary distinctions lies in the causative agents. COVID-19 is a viral infection triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, discovered in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. On the other hand, strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. Understanding this contrast is essential for appropriate medical interventions.

2. Transmission: Airborne vs. Direct Contact

The modes of transmission also differ significantly. COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also occur through touching contaminated surfaces. Strep throat, on the other hand, is highly contagious through respiratory droplets and direct contact with an infected person. Recognizing how each illness is transmitted is crucial for implementing preventive measures.

3. Symptoms: Respiratory vs. Throat-Centric

While both conditions may involve a sore throat, their symptom profiles differ. COVID-19 predominantly manifests as a respiratory illness, with symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, congestion, and loss of smell or taste. In contrast, strep throat's symptoms are more focused on the throat, including a rapid onset sore throat, pain during swallowing, fever, red and swollen tonsils, and swollen lymph nodes.

4. Testing: Viral Tests vs. Bacterial Tests

Diagnostic tests for COVID-19 typically involve viral tests, such as PCR or rapid antigen tests, aimed at detecting the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In contrast, diagnosing strep throat often involves a bacterial test, like a rapid strep test (throat swab), to identify group A Streptococcus bacteria. Tailoring the testing approach to the specific nature of each infection is crucial for accurate results.

5. Treatment: Antivirals vs. Antibiotics

Treatment approaches also differ due to the distinct nature of the infections. COVID-19 management focuses on antiviral medications and supportive care. In contrast, strep throat is commonly treated with antibiotics, which target the bacterial infection. Understanding these divergent treatment strategies is vital for effective recovery.

In conclusion, while COVID-19 and strep throat may share certain symptoms, recognizing their key differences is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. If you experience symptoms indicative of either condition, seeking timely medical advice and testing is crucial for your well-being and the well-being of those

AFC Urgent Care Southington offers a comprehensive range of tests,

AFC Urgent Care Southington offers many tests including COVID-19 tests (PCR/Antigen) and a Strep test involving a swab to identify bacterial growth. If your results indicate a strep infection, we can provide effective antibiotic treatment. It's crucial to remember that not all illnesses are related to COVID, and winter often brings various unwanted health challenges.

Our facility is available seven days a week, accommodating both pre-scheduled appointments and walk-ins. AFC Urgent Care Southington accepts a wide range of insurances, ensuring convenient and prompt access to healthcare services. Take advantage of our user-friendly online payment system, allowing you to settle your bill with just a few clicks.

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