When you get that sore throat coming on, do you automatically think of strep throat? Is strep throat the only thing that causes a sore throat and swollen glands in the neck? The answer of course is no. There are several diseases that can mimic having strep throat and there are subtle ways of knowing which are which.
When the condition is, in fact, strep throat, you have a serious sore throat, swollen glands in the neck, and a high fever. You usually have no nasal symptoms and your voice isn’t that hoarse. You hardly ever have a cough and the throat feels full, just like you have golf balls in it.
If you have, for example, a virus that is causing a cold, most notably an adenovirus infection, your symptoms are a bit different. Your throat feels tender but you mostly have a scratchy or itchy throat. The tonsils may be red but generally aren’t as swollen as they are in strep throat. You generally have nasal congestion along with the sore throat and this can be a lot of nasal congestion. Generally the nasal congestion is worse than the sore throat when you have a cold virus. You have little or no fever when you are suffering from this condition. You don’t usually have to see the doctor as this condition is self-limited and you’ll get better in a week or so.
You can have a sore throat when the condition is, in fact, bronchitis. The soreness in the throat involves the lower part of the throat and often is scratchy or itchy. A cough is relatively prominent and you generally experience a worsening of the sore throat when you cough a lot. You have little or no fever and the cough is more prominent than the sore throat. You generally don’t have to see the doctor for this kind of thing unless you are coughing up green or yellow sputum or run a fever. You also may need to see the doctor if you are asthmatic and are prone to complications of bronchitis, such as pneumonia.
You can have other bacteria causing a sore throat such as a staph infection or other pathogenic bacteria. The symptoms can be exactly like a sore throat but generally you won’t have as much of a fever with these sorts of infections. Most of the time you should see a doctor with this sort of infection because it is hard to tell the difference between this sort of infection and a strep infection. Only a throat culture can really tell the difference between the two types of infections.
A tonsillar abscess can act like a regular case of strep throat but is much worse. The whole side of the oral cavity near the tonsils is swollen to the point that the uvula can be pushed to the side. This means that there is a strep infection that has formed an abscess in the area behind the tonsils. This is a severe condition that needs immediate medical attention and surgery to drain the abscess.