Could Your Sore Throat Be Strep?

    We all know that raw, scratchy feeling in the back of the throat. The cause may be as simple as dry winter air, seasonal allergies, or a developing cold. But sometimes the culprit is strep, a bacterial infection that can be dangerous if untreated. Only your health care provider can make a firm diagnosis, but there are signs that may provide clues that you have strep rather than a common sore throat.

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    What Exactly Is Strep?

    The reason it’s so important to distinguish between strep and a common sore throat is that strep is caused by a bacterial infection — Group A Streptococcus — and a simple sore throat is usually caused by a virus. Antibiotic treatment may lessen symptoms and duration of illness. It will also decrease the chance for complications. Without antibiotics, a strep infection may lead to complications that affect the heart or other organs. Though rare, this can cause serious illness.

    How Much Does It Hurt?

    A sore throat caused by a cold can be plenty painful, but it usually goes away after a couple of days. Strep throat tends to be more severe and persistent — the pain may be so bad, it’s hard to swallow. In some cases, strep may cause nausea, a lack of

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