Winter Is Upon Us: Know The Difference Between Strep Throat And Covid-19

February 6, 2023

Woman holding her sore throat and is unsure if it is COVID-19 or strep throat

Can COVID-19 cause a sore throat? Yes, COVID-19 can cause a sore throat, but it isn’t Strep Throat. It seems like every symptom we feel nowadays is COVID-19. Let’s not forget there are other illnesses out there, especially during the winter season. The flu, Strep throat, and colds are amongst some illnesses preying on us during the winter. 

To clear up the confusion, AFC Urgent Care Springfield is here to provide you with a guideline to differentiate between a sore throat caused by COVID-19 and Strep throat.

Strep Throat Symptoms  

Strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep).Group A strep bacteria are very contagious. Generally, people spread the bacteria to others through respiratory droplets or direct contact. Strep throat is not a viral infection but a bacterial one.  A fever may begin suddenly and is often highest on the second day. If you have strep throat you’ll experience the following symptoms:

  • Sore throat 
  • Pain when swallowing
  • Fever
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck.

Symptoms typically NOT related to Strep throat:

  • Cough
  • Runny nose

Just like COVID-19, Strep Throat has a specific test. The test will show if the bacteria causing the infection is present or not. The test is performed by using a swab.

COVID-19 symptoms

COVID-19 is a disease caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2 and was discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It is very contagious and has quickly spread around the world.COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that can feel much like a cold, a flu, or pneumonia.

COVID-19 is not a bacterial infection, but a viral infection. That’s the main difference between Strep Throat and Covid-19 (viral v.s Bacterial) COVID-19 symptoms are the following: 

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

These symptoms may change due to the variant of the virus. Some symptoms may not even be present, but that doesn’t mean one can't infect the people around. 

We highly suggest getting your updated booster shots and vaccines for COVID-19. Most people who have had all of the available vaccines will experience mild symptoms, but some people, mostly those who have not been vaccinated, the elderly or those with pre-existing conditions, can become severely ill. Although we do not carry the COVID-19 vaccine, you can easily get one at your local pharmacy, such as CVS, Rite Aid, etc.

AFC Urgent Care Springfield Offers Rapid Strep Tests

If you’re unsure if it is strep throat, AFC Urgent Care in Springfield offers “rapid strep tests”. As the name indicates, the “rapid strep test” is a quick swab of the back of your throat that gives results on the same day. It will check to see if bacteria is present or not. 

If you test positive for strep throat, the good news is that most patients begin to see improvement shortly after treatment begins. We offer antibiotics to help kill the bacteria that is causing it. We highly suggest taking your entire prescription. Even if you feel better, you don’t want to stop too soon because there still could be bacteria that can grow back and be more resistant. 

Along with the “rapid strep tests,” we offer Rapid Antigen and PCR COVID-19 tests as well. Sometimes you may not feel any symptoms, 

AFC Urgent Care Springfield is open seven days a week for patients of all ages, including flu vaccinations, diagnostic rapid molecular tests for COVID-19.

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