From your health and wellness experts at Prisma Health
November 02, 2018

Is it a sore throat or is it strep?

Katie Schill, NP
Palmetto Health Mobile Clinic
Sore throats can be caused by viruses or bacteria. When caused by a bacteria, it’s called strep throat. But how can you tell the difference?
Katie Schill, nurse practitioner with Palmetto Health’s Mobile Clinic, offers some tips:
Sore throats caused by viruses are often accompanied by other symptoms including a runny nose, cough or watery eyes, and they may or may not have a fever. Unlike strep throat, symptoms will not improve with antibiotics. If your sore throat is caused by a virus, drink plenty of fluids and rest.
Strep throat often presents with no cough, a fever (greater than 100.5 degrees), white patches on the tonsils or dark spots on the roof of the mouth, and tender lymph nodes in the neck. It can cause headaches, body aches, a rash and stomach upset. Strep throat must be treated with antibiotics, so make sure to see your doctor for a rapid strep test or throat culture.
Home remedies for both types of sore throat include Tylenol or Ibuprofen as needed for comfort or fever, fluids, warm saltwater gargles, and throat lozenges.
To avoid getting sick in the first place, Katie recommends these prevention tips:
  • Prevent the spread of germs by washing your hands.
  • Do not share cups or utensils.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Stay home from work if you have a fever of 100.4 or greater, even if it goes down with Tylenol or ibuprofen. You need to stay home until fever free for 24 hours.

Same-Day Care

Palmetto Health offers several same-day care options for minor illnesses such as UTIs. To learn more, visit