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March 3, 2020

Is it Strep Throat or Just a Sore Throat

We’ve all been there. We feel under the weather and wonder, “Is this strep throat or just a sore throat”?

March 3, 2020

Same Day Appointments Available in Communities Served

KIMBERLY, Wis. – We’ve all been there. We feel under the weather and wonder, “Is this strep throat or just a sore throat”?

“Strep throat (streptococcal pharyngitis) is an infection of the back of the throat, including the tonsils, caused by group A streptococcus bacteria,” explained Dr. Rebecca Doro, a family medicine physician with ThedaCare Physicians-Kimberly. “Because it is a bacterial infection, antibiotics are generally successful at resolving strep.”

Dr. Doro goes on to explain if the soreness is not caused by streptococcus, a person most likely has a cold virus that must resolve on its own. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics.

There are a few symptoms that help make the distinction between strep and a sore throat.

“With strep, people report their chief complaint is a sore throat,” she said. “Strep usually does not come with other cold symptoms like a runny nose, congestion or a cough.”

Fevers often accompany strep, as do red tonsils and enlarged lymph nodes in the neck. With strep, babies and toddlers may exhibit a rash on their belly and possibly some nausea or vomiting. This does not generally happen to adults.

Dr. Doro said if you find yourself with a sore throat of any kind, take these steps to help yourself and the people around you:

  • Avoid the use of numbing throat sprays, as they can mask symptoms or changes that you should report to your doctor. Instead, use Tylenol or ibuprofen for pain, or saltwater gargles. (The salt draws water out of bacteria and kills it through the process of osmosis.)
  • Drink plenty of warm and cold liquids, whichever feels good. Proper hydration really does help rid your body of toxins, and it’s often overlooked as an important part of curing illness.
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly. Try to stop touching your face, because your cold or strep germs are easily transferred to other surfaces in your home or workplace, effectively spreading it to other people.
  • Use a new toothbrush and cup.

“We can do a five-minute rapid strep test during an office visit to see if group A streptococcus bacteria is present,” explained Dr. Doro. “If the test is positive, antibiotics can be prescribed.”

Patients must be on the medication for a full 24 hours before returning to work or school and finish their entire course of antibiotics as prescribed. Finishing the entire prescription helps prevent a relapse of the bacteria. More importantly, it prevents the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the community, a phenomenon that happens when bacteria are weakened by an antibiotic, but still survive and evolve to resist the effects of medication in future cases.

“Depending on your perspective, some people like a definitive strep diagnosis because we can prescribe a fix,” said Dr. Doro. “Other people would rather avoid antibiotics and are happy to hear they just need more time, rest, and fluids to feel well again.”

To meet growing consumer demand for timely and convenient access to primary care services, ThedaCare is now offering same-day primary care appointments in all the communities served.


By calling 920-SAME-DAY Monday–Friday by noon, residents in our community can access a primary care appointment from a physician or advanced practice clinician within their existing or nearby clinic, the same day they call. Scheduling priority will be for those experiencing acute illness and will accommodate wellness or chronic condition visits as well, when possible.


Additionally, ThedaCare continues to offer convenient care options at the nearest Walk-In or FastCare facility, and through evisits or soon-to-be available video visit service.