Difference Between Sore Throat and Strep Throat

Sore throat is a common presentation in clinical practice. Mild sore throat is usually caused by viral infections such as in common cold, but it can be resulted from bacterial infections such as streptococcal infection, infectious mononucleosis, recent trauma, or some other cause. As mentioned above strep throat is one of the causes of sore throat and this article points out the differences between these two terms which would be helpful in making the diagnosis.

Sore Throat

Infection/inflammation anywhere in the oropharynx is referred to as sore throat.

Most commonly it is resulted from viral infections, which are short lived and rarely complicated. The other causes of sore throat include trauma, bacterial infections, tumors etc.

Simple sore throat like that resulted from viral infections can be treated with gargling warm salty water, voice rest, and by avoiding air pollution. Analgesics such as paracetamol and non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs may be helpful. Bacterial infections must be treated with antibiotics and have to address the complications, as well.

Strep Throat

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A streptococci which is commonly seen in children and teens. It accounts for 37% of the sore throat in the children population. The disease is transmitted by direct contact with an infected person thus crowding becoming a major risk factor.

Clinically the patient may present with a sore throat with associated fever, cervical lymphadenopathy, and other constitutional symptoms. Tonsillitis is a feature. Tonsils may be enlarged, and red and white patches may be seen on the surface.

Throat culture with sensitivity is the gold standard in the diagnosis of the streptococcal pharyngitis.

Complications of the disease include rheumatic fever, retropharyngeal abscess and post streptococcal glomerulonephritis.

Management of the disease involves antibiotics where the patient feels better in 1-2 days.

What is the difference between Sore Throat and Strep Throat?

• Strep throat is a bacterial infection being one of the causes of sore throat.

• Sore throat in strep is usually associated with tonsillitis.

• Throat culture is the gold standard in diagnosing streptococcal infection while other causes can be diagnosed simply by the history and clinical examination.

• Strep throat should be treated with antibiotics while others can be benefited by gargling, voice rest, and with simple analgesics.

• Complications are rare with the other forms of sore throat, but in strep throat, they can develop rheumatic fever and post streptococcal glomerulonephritis.