Strep throat, which is a contagious
bacterial infection of the throat and tonsils (the fleshy clusters of tissue on both
sides of the back of the throat). It also can cause headache and fever.
Tonsillitis, which is
usually not serious but can lead to complications, like breathing or swallowing trouble.
Most cases are caused by either a virus (such as a common cold virus or Epstein Barr
virus, the virus that causes mono) or strep bacteria.
Treatment for a sore throat will depend on what's causing it. Treating an underlying
condition (like GER or allergies) can bring relief, as can home care (like gargling
with saltwater, running a cool mist humidifier at night, and avoiding irritants like
Strep throat requires medical treatment with antibiotics, which will improve symptoms
quickly. Untreated strep throat can lead to complications like rheumatic fever (which
can cause permanent heart damage), a peritonsillar
abscess, scarlet fever, or
Treatment for tonsillitis depends on whether it is caused by a virus or by bacteria.
Doctors usually will test for strep bacteria with a rapid strep test or a throat
culture. Tonsillitis caused by a virus will go away on its own. If it's caused by
strep bacteria, the doctor probably will prescribe an antibiotic. If so, it's important
to take all of the antibiotic for as long as prescribed to help prevent complications.
People with tonsillitis or strep throat can return to activities 24 hours after
beginning antibiotic treatment if there's no fever and they're feeling better.
If someone is still feeling weak, tired, or achy, staying home for another day or
two is recommended.
Keep in Mind
To help prevent the spread of strep throat or tonsillitis to others: