Strep throat is a common bacterial throat infection. Signs of strep include a painful sore throat and swollen lymph nodes. It does not cause cold symptoms such as coughing or a runny nose. Strep throat is more common in children ages 5 to 15, but adults can also get it.

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What causes strep throat?

Strep throat is an infection in the throat caused by streptococcus bacteria. Unlike other forms of sore throat that are caused by viruses, antibiotics can be used for strep throat treatment. Strep throat is highly contagious. It can spread through contact with mucus or saliva, such as sneezing or drinking after a sick person.

What are symptoms of strep throat?

The symptoms of strep throat in kids and in adults are similar. Strep throat symptoms include:

  • Painful, red sore throat
  • Sudden fever that spikes quickly
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck
  • White patches in the back of the throat
  • Red spots on roof of mouth
  • Difficult swallowing
  • General discomfort

If you see a rash develop at the same time as strep throat, it could be a case of scarlet fever. Contact a healthcare provider or find the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic to receive a diagnosis.

A sore throat connected with cold-like symptoms such as cough, runny nose and hoarseness is probably caused by a virus, not streptococcus bacteria.

How is strep throat treated?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection. As a result, antibiotics for strep throat can reduce symptoms and make you less contagious. A rapid strep test is the only way to tell whether you have strep throat. A healthcare provider can do this test and prescribe antibiotics if the test is positive.

If you think you or your child may have strep throat, contact a healthcare provider. If strep throat is not treated, it can lead to complications including:

  • Ear infection
  • Sinusitis
  • Scarlet fever
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Inflammation of kidneys

If you or your child has strep throat symptoms, find the nearest CareNow® urgent care clinic. You can minimize your wait time with our Web Check-In®.