Strep Throat Symptoms

A sudden, painful sore throat can be a good indication that you have strep throat. Yet a viral infection and not strep bacteria cause most sore throats. Even more surprising, if you have typical cold symptoms like a stuffy and/or runny nose and a cough, you likely do NOT have strep throat.

The most common signs of strep throat may include:

  • Sudden and severe sore throat: With strep throat, sore throat pain emerges quickly and can be very painful.
  • Difficulty swallowing: It’s normal to feel pain while swallowing when you have a sore throat. But strep throat can make it difficult to swallow even liquids.
  • Fever above 101 degrees: The onset of strep throat is often accompanied by a high fever.
  • White or yellow pus on your tonsils and/or redness on the back of throat: Use a flashlight to illuminate the back of your throat. If you see white or yellow spots on a bright red throat, you may have strep throat.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck: Lymph nodes in your neck will often feel tender and sensitive to the touch when you have strep throat.
  • Lack of congestion, cough and upper-respiratory symptoms: A painful sore throat, minus other cold-like symptoms, can be a good indication that you have strep throat.

The last symptom is important to remember: the more cold symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you DON’T have strep throat.

Strep Throat Symptoms Appear 2 to 5 Days After Exposure

Strep throat symptoms do not appear immediately following contact with someone who has a strep infection. Usually, the signs of strep throat appear two to five days following exposure.

Although strep throat usually goes away within three to seven days following exposure without treatment, you remain contagious for two to three weeks.

Read that again: even though your strep throat symptoms will disappear within a week of infection, unless you are treated with antibiotics, you remain contagious for 14 to 21 days afterwards. That’s why it’s important to seek treatment of strep throat with antibiotics.

Read: How Does the ENT Center Diagnose Strep Throat?

The good news is that most patients are no longer contagious (or less contagious) within 24 hours of starting to use antibiotics to fight strep throat.

Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center for Strep Throat Questions

Strep throat is painful and can become serious if left untreated. If you suspect you may have strep throat, contact our ENT doctors in Utah at 801-328-2522 for an appointment.

Read: How the ENT Center Treats Strep Throat

Read: What is Strep Throat?

Read: 5 Tips to Avoid Strep Throat

5 Tips to Prevent Strep Throat

There is no vaccine to prevent strep throat. This means the best protection is prevention and that includes ensuring that you do everything you can to avoid contact with Group A Streptococcus (GAS) bacteria, specifically Streptococcus pyogenes. That’s the bacterium that causes strep throat.

Read: What is Strep Throat?

If you are diagnosed with strep throat, it’s up to you to do your part to help ensure you don’t spread the infection to others. We’ve included five tips to help avoid strep throat.

1. Wash Your Hands Often

Good hand-washing practices will help you avoid strep and plenty of other infectious viruses. Every day your hands touch doorknobs, computer keyboards and mice, phones, car keys, countertops, shopping carts and more. That’s natural and normal. Simply remember that if you’re touching all of these items on a regular basis, it’s possible that someone who has strep throat, a cold virus or many other viruses that can make you sick is also touching those items daily.

We’re not recommending you become a germaphobe who is afraid to go outside or touch common items. Just use your good sense and wash your hands regularly throughout the day.

For instance, it’s a good practice to wash your hands whenever you return home from the grocery store since shopping carts regularly test for high levels for everything from fecal bacteria to E. Coli. Hand sanitizer is also a good idea to use to quickly disinfect your hands.

2. Avoid Touching Your Eyes or Mouth with Your Hands

Tip number two naturally follows tip number one for good reason. If your hands come into contact with infectious viruses, the last thing you want to do is touch your eyes, mouth or nose with dirty hands. That’s because your eyes, nose and mouth are often an ideal gateway for a virus to enter your immune system. Washing your hands often and ensuring you don’t rub your eyes or place fingers in your mouth is a great way to prevent strep throat and other infections from making you sick.

3. Don’t Share Food, Drinks or Towels with a Sick Person

This one is a no-brainer; if someone is sick, don’t take a bite of their food or drink from their cup. While that logic makes perfect sense, you would be surprised how many people share food or utensils with someone who has already been diagnosed with strep throat or exhibits strep throat symptoms.

The same advice applies to clothes, towels and pillowcases. If someone is sick, you want to avoid or minimize exposure to any item where his or her saliva or mucus may be lying in wait. Obviously, treat someone suffering with respect but be smart about how you demonstrate that respect or risk catching strep throat yourself, which isn’t particularly helpful to anyone.

Read: What are Strep Throat Symptoms?

4. Cover Your Nose and Mouth Whenever You Cough or Sneeze

This tip applies to people whether or not they have an infectious virus. It’s simply polite to shield those around you from potentially infectious airborne droplets.

If you have strep throat, don’t forget to wash your hands after every sneeze and cough, too. Preventing the airborne droplets from spreading doesn’t do much good if you immediately follow a sneeze by touching a doorknob or pushing a shopping cart with dirty hands. You’re making it easy for the virus to spread to others if you don’t exercise some diligence and self-control.

5. Get Enough Rest and Eat Healthy Foods

People today rarely get enough sleep. Unfortunately, overwork and stress can weaken your body’s immune system and make it difficult to fight viral infections. When your immune system is weak, strep throat has an easier time taking up residence within your body and making you sick.

If you want to prevent strep throat, do your best to keep regular eating and sleeping habits—particularly in the winter months when strep infections increase. You’ll feel better overall and avoid the pain and hassle of a strep throat infection.

Contact the Ear, Nose and Throat Center

Strep throat can become a serious condition. Our Ear, Nose and Throat doctors in Salt Lake City, Draper and Park City, Utah can diagnose and treat strep throat. Call 801-328-2522 to set an appointment with our our Utah ear, nose and throat doctors.