Symptoms and Signs of Strep Throat Symptoms in Children and Adults

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Medically Reviewed on 3/22/2022

Doctor's Notes on Strep Throat Symptoms in Children and Adults

Strep throat is an infection of the throat by strep bacteria. Typical signs and symptoms are fever, swollen and tender neck lymph nodes, whitish patches on the tonsils and throat. Other symptoms may include headache, soreness or painful swallowing, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, red and swollen palate and sometimes a diffuse rash. The signs and symptoms may vary according to age and may also have the following:

  • Infants: yellow or greenish nasal discharge, low fever, irritable, fussy, decreased appetite
  • Children (ages 1-3 years): poor appetite, swollen glands beneath the jaws, crankiness
  • Older children and adolescents: feel awful, high fevers, very painful swallowing, and pus production
  • Adults: usually much milder symptoms; only some individuals with severe pain and difficulty swallowing

In children and teens mainly, a toxin produced by strep bacteria may produce a rash known as scarlet fever, scarlet colored goose-bumps on sunburned-like skin. It can start on the face in 12-24 hours after fever develops and may last a few days.

The cause of strep throat is the bacterium Streptococcus and, in some individuals, also the toxin released by the bacteria.

What Are the Treatments for Strep Throat?

The treatments consist of doing nothing, treating discomfort and using antibiotics. The treatments include:


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.