The Difference Between Strep Throat & COVID-19

The Difference Between Strep Throat & COVID-19If you’re experiencing a sore throat, you’re probably concerned about what’s causing it. Less than a year ago, a simple sore throat usually wouldn’t be much cause for concern. Since the onset of the pandemic, however, feeling the slightest bit under the weather automatically makes people wonder if they contracted COVID-19, or if it’s something less serious. We understand how stressful this all can be, so we’ve compiled a list of distinctions between strep throat and COVID-19 in the hopes that it will ease your mind and help you determine the appropriate next steps to take.

Strep Throat vs. COVID-19

Before getting into symptoms and treatment methods, it may help to explain exactly what strep throat and COVID-19 are. Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. COVID-19, on the other hand, is a respiratory virus caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (also referred to as “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” or “SARS-CoV-2”). As you’ll see below, this distinction becomes important when determining how to treat each of these conditions.

Strep Throat Symptoms vs. COVID-19 Symptoms

In addition to a sore throat, strep throat and COVID-19 can produce many of the same symptoms, including:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Vomiting

Each of these illnesses also produces its own unique set of symptoms, which is what you need to be on the lookout for to determine if you have strep throat, COVID-19, or something else. For example, if you notice any of the following, there’s a good chance that you have strep throat rather than COVID-19:

  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen red tonsils (in some cases, with streaks of pus or white patches)
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes at the front of the neck
  • A rash

Conversely, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you might have COVID-19 and not strep throat:

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

Another important distinction between strep throat and COVID-19 is how quickly symptoms appear—the throat soreness associated with strep throat tends to appear fairly suddenly, while COVID-19 symptoms seem to come on more gradually.

Strep Throat Treatment vs. COVID-19 Treatment

As mentioned above, strep throat is a bacterial infection and COVID-19 is a respiratory virus. This distinction is important because although antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections, they have no effect on viruses. As of right now, there’s no specific medication being recommended to treat COVID-19, although researchers are still working hard to find a cure.

Urgent Care Treatment for Strep Throat & COVID-19

Of course, only a trained medical professional will be able to determine whether you have strep throat, COVID-19, or another disease entirely. If you’re experiencing symptoms and happen to be in our service area, we encourage you to schedule a virtual visit with PhysicianOne Urgent Care. Depending on the circumstances, we may direct you to undergo COVID-19 testing or visit one of our urgent care centers for in-person treatment. If you’ve taken an at-home COVID-19 test and have questions about your results, we can help with that too. Contact us today if you have any questions.

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