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Is your sore throat strep?

When you wake up to fiery pain in your throat, it can be difficult to determine the cause. Are you suffering from spring allergies or is it something more serious, like strep throat? Brett Prylinksi, D.O., a family medicine physician at Piedmont, answers this burning question.

“Most cases of a sore throat are caused by viruses like the rhinovirus, which is the common cold,” says Dr. Prylinski. “Usually, the sore throat is accompanied by other cold symptoms like a cough, irritation of the eyes and a watery nose. Strep throat is a more severe form of a sore throat caused by bacteria called Streptococcus pyogenes. This bacterial infection usually affects the back of the throat and tonsils if people have not had them removed.”

Strep bacteria peaks during the winter months and then again in April and May.

Symptoms of strep throat

Strep throat can cause the following symptoms:

  • Body aches

  • Enlarged lymph nodes

  • Fever over 100.4 degrees

  • Pain in the neck and throat with the absence of other cold symptoms

  • Swollen tonsils

  • White patches on the throat or tonsils

“If you have a sore throat and are concerned about your symptoms, schedule an appointment with your physician,” Dr. Prylinski says. “They will assess your symptoms and potentially take a swab of your throat to make a diagnosis.”

How to treat a sore throat

If you have strep throat, your physician will prescribe antibiotics.

“It is important to use antibiotics to prevent the infection from going untreated and potentially causing other conditions,” says Dr. Prylinski. “In unusual cases, strep throat can cause rheumatic fever or post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, an inflammation of the kidneys.”

A sore throat caused by a cold will usually clear up on its own within five to seven days. To ease your symptoms, Dr. Prylinski recommends the following:

  • Drink warm tea with honey. Honey and warm tea can help to soothe the throat and decrease pain levels,” says Dr. Prylinski.

  • Gargle with salt water. Mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon of table salt to 4 to 8 ounces of warm water and gargle the solution.

  • Avoid throat-numbing medications. “Numbing the throat with medicine can cause rebound pain, which can be worse than the discomfort you had in the first place,” he explains.

  • Boost your immune system. Eat healthy foods and incorporate exercise into your routine to build a strong immune system that can ultimately help you fight off infections.

Dr. Prylinski practices at Piedmont Physicians East Paces Buckhead Family Practice, located at 371 East Paces Ferry Road Northeast, Suite 300, Atlanta, Ga., 30305. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Prylinski or one of our other primary care providers. Save time, book online.

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