Oftentimes, a scratchy throat is the first sign of a looming illness, such as strep throat or influenza. To many people, strep throat and a sore throat that accompanies the flu may seem like one and the same. However, they are actually different illnesses that require different treatment approaches.
Essentially, strep is a bacterial infection that affects the tonsils and throat, while the flu is a viral infection that affects the nose, lungs, and throat. In addition to a sore throat, both conditions can cause fever, chills, body aches, and fatigue. Without the help of a medical provider, it can be difficult to tell the difference between strep throat and flu, but it is important to do so in order to ensure appropriate treatment. Both illnesses are highly contagious and can lead to potentially serious complications, such as pneumonia or rheumatic fever.
A Strep Diagnosis Requires a Lab Test
Although a physician can often diagnose influenza based on its symptoms alone—especially if they develop during the height of flu season—strep can only be confirmed with lab testing. There are two main tests used for diagnosing strep throat: a rapid strep test and a throat culture.
A rapid strep test involves swabbing the throat and immediately testing the swab in a lab. Within minutes, the test can detect antigens produced by the body’s immune system in response to group A Streptococcus bacteria, which cause strep throat. If a rapid strep test produces a positive result, a physician may prescribe a course of antibiotics. If a rapid strep test produces a negative result but a physician still suspects strep throat, he or she may order a throat culture swab, which is generally more reliable than a rapid strep test but takes longer to process (typically a few days).
Regardless of the cause of your sore throat, you may find it helpful to get plenty of rest, stay well-hydrated, gargle with warm salt water, and eat cool, soft foods to avoid further irritation.
Turn to Medella Urgent Care
If you have a sore throat, turn to the experienced team at Medella Urgent Care. Because we have an on-site lab, we can perform a rapid strep test on the spot to get to the bottom of your illness. That’s the best way to ensure you receive the right treatment to help you feel better, recover quickly, and avoid infecting others.
To learn more, contact or visit Medella Urgent Care in Magnolia or Vintage Park, TX, today.