Strep Throat - Symptoms

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What are the signs and symptoms of strep throat?

Signs of strep throat are not unique - indeed many viral infections (which cause the large majority of sore throats) can have identical signs and symptoms as a GAS infection. Typically, an older child and adolescent will have several core symptoms such as:

  • Fever (generally 102 F [38.8 C] and higher)
  • Sore throat (may vary from mild to moderate in severity)
  • Headache
  • Upset stomach with nausea occasionally severe enough to cause mild vomiting

Of note is that runny nose, cough, hoarse voice, muscle aches, diarrhea and oral blisters are generally not seen with a strep throat infection. These latter symptoms are more commonly indicative of a sore throat caused by a virus.

Signs of strep throat infection include:

  • Redness of the soft palate, uvula (the "punching bag" structure hanging from the back of the soft palate) and tonsils. Commonly the tonsils may have a bumpy character to their surface - somewhat like a golfball.
  • A purulent discharge on the tonsils (exudate)
  • Petechiae (1-2 mm bright red "dots" which represent ruptured capillaries) scattered on the soft palate. The presence of these "white spots" is often associated with bad breath (halitosis).
  • Enlarged and tender neck lymph nodes (also known as lymph glands), and occasionally
  • A diffuse rash over the torso and groin region. The classic description of this rash is that of "goose bumps on a moderate sunburn."

The presence of a strep infection and this specific rash is termed scarlet fever. Such a diagnosis does not imply a more severe GAS infection or imply any change in prognosis or management. The rash is not contagious. It is important to note that while most patients with strep throat will experience these signs and symptoms, not all will necessarily be present in each individual.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: enr92, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: January 21

This is my first time with strep throat, and let me just say I would not wish this on my worst enemy. I started having sore muscles Sunday night, and brushed it off because I had worked out two days before. I woke up the next morning with the muscles sore, fatigue, and a very sore throat. It hurt to even swallow my saliva. I developed a low-grade fever on Tuesday. Symptoms seemed to get worse as the day progressed. I went to the doctor this morning (Wednesday). He tested me for strep which actually came back negative, but the doctor was still certain I had strep due to the occasional inaccuracy of the test and the fact that I showed all the classic symptoms of strep. He started me on 10-day amoxicillin. I took one pill already but the doctor said that sometimes it takes a couple days for symptoms to start improving. Looks like I'll be out of work longer than I thought. Super.

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Comment from: CC, 19-24 Female (Patient) Published: April 28

I experienced sore throat, headache, upset stomach, and fever. All of which were listed as symptoms of strep throat.

Was this comment helpful?Yes

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