What Are Symptoms of Strep Throat?

Reviewed on 1/21/2022
A man grabbing his neck due to a sore throat
Symptoms of strep throat include sore throat, pain when swallowing, fever, red throat, white patches or streaks of pus on the tonsils/back of the throat/tongue; tiny, red spots on the roof of the mouth; and swollen lymph nodes in the front of the neck, tonsils, and uvula; and others.

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep), and is a common cause of sore throat. Antibiotics such as penicillin or amoxicillin are often used to treat strep throat.

Symptoms of strep throat often come on quickly and may include:

What Causes Strep Throat?

Strep throat is caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep).

Group A strep lives in the nose and throat and can be contagious. When a person infected with strep coughs or sneezes, they release respiratory droplets with the bacteria into the air. 

Strep can be transmitted when people:

  • Inhale the respiratory droplets
  • Touch something with droplets on it and then touch their mouth or nose
  • Share glasses, plates, or utensils with an infected person
  • Touch sores on the skin caused by group A strep (impetigo)
  • Eat improperly handled food (rare)

How Is Strep Throat Diagnosed?

Strep throat is diagnosed with: 

  • A rapid strep test
    • A swab is taken of the throat 
    • Results are usually available in about 15 minutes
  • Throat culture
    • A throat culture swab can take 2-3 days to yield results but is more accurate than a rapid strep test

What Is the Treatment for Strep Throat?

Antibiotics are used to treat strep throat.

  • Penicillin or amoxicillin are the first-line choices 
  • Other antibiotics may be used for people allergic to penicillin
  • If antibiotics are prescribed, take the entire dose as prescribed even if you feel better before you have finished all the medication

If a person tests positive for strep throat but has no symptoms (is a “carrier”) treatment is often not needed. 

How Do You Prevent Strep Throat?

Recurrent infections with strep throat can happen. The illness may be prevented in some cases by: 

  • Washing hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds
  • Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
    • Coughing or sneezing into a tissue or upper arm or elbow, not the hands, if a tissue is not available (discard used tissues immediately)
  • Washing glasses, utensils, and plates thoroughly after someone who is infected uses them
  • If you have strep throat: 
    • Stay home from work or school until you no longer have a fever and you have taken antibiotics for at least 24 hours
    • Take the full course of antibiotics exactly as prescribed 


Just about any painful sore throat is caused by strep. See Answer

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Reviewed on 1/21/2022
Image Source: iStock Images