Though it is generally a painful but minor experience, strep throat is very contagious and can lead to serious complications if untreated. The infection, which is caused by the group A streptococcus bacteria, is most common in children aged five to 15, though it can affect anyone. Spending time in highly populated areas like daycares or schools raises the likelihood of contracting the infection.

Because delayed treatment can be dangerous and spread the infection, if you recognize any symptoms that might be strep throat, see a doctor right away.

A Sore Throat

A sore throat that makes it hard to swallow or speak is the most widely prevalent symptom associated with strep throat. This symptom has many causes, so if this is a person's only symptom, a doctor may not yet be able to make a diagnosis. If the pain does not go away in a few days and usual home remedies like keeping quiet and drinking warm fluids does not help, consider making an appointment.

Young woman with a red hair sitting at home, feeling sick, having a sore throat and drinking a glass of water Brothers91/ Getty Images


Red, Swollen Tonsils

Sometimes, strep throat leads to red, swollen tonsils, visible in the back of the throat. White or yellowish spots and streaks of pus may also appear on these inflamed lymph nodes. Some of these symptoms occur in tonsillitis, so having a strep test done at the doctor's office can determine the correct diagnosis. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics if the strep test comes back positive.

Young woman is looking on her tongue in the mirror privetik/ Getty Images


Inflamed Lymph Nodes in the Neck

In addition to the tonsils, strep throat can cause inflammation of the lymph nodes in the neck, and this can indicate the infection is more serious and is spreading. This quickly recognizable symptom will be easy for the doctor to identify. Shortly after beginning a course of antibiotics, this swelling should start to go down.

Close up of young woman rubbing her inflamed tonsils, tonsilitis problem, cropped. stefanamer/ Getty Images


Sudden Fever

Many people with strep throat develop a fever that comes on quickly without the chills that often precede or accompany the symptom. Although people often try to treat a fever at home, if other symptoms of strep throat are present, it is essential to see a doctor and receive a prescription for antibiotics to fight the bacteria. Taking other medications at home can have adverse effects.

Woman being sick having flu lying on sofa looking at temperature on thermometer. stefanamer/ getty Images


Stomach Ache or Vomiting

Stomach aches, nausea, and vomiting are rare with strep throat, but they can occur. In addition to irritating the throat further, vomiting can lead to dehydration, especially when it's already painful to drink or eat. In most cases, if these secondary symptoms develop, they begin after the throat pain and swollen tonsils, so it's unlikely they will be mistaken for a stomach bug.

Young man having stomach pain supersizer/ Getty Images


Headaches and Fatigue

Mild to moderate body aches are common with strep throat infections. Many people develop a headache along with fatigue and general malaise. As with many other illnesses, these symptoms are usually due to the body working hard to fight off the bacteria. In addition to taking prescribed antibiotics, rest and hydration should ensure these symptoms fade within a few days of the throat symptoms easing.

Young man suffering from strong headache or migraine sitting with glass of water in the kitchen, fizkes/ Getty Images



The strep bacterium sometimes produces a toxin that results in an allergic reaction and a rash. Red and bumpy, this topical symptom can develop on the neck, chest, torso, or back and is most common for infected people who have weak immune systems, such as young children and elderly adults. As with other signs and symptoms of strep, antibiotics can help reduce the severity and speed healing.

Scratching neck Kinga Krzeminska/ Getty Images


Painful Swallowing

The sore throat and swollen tonsils of strep throat often cause sharp or scraping pain when swallowing food or fluids. While it's tempting to avoid eating and drinking, giving the body these nutrients is essential to staying healthy. Warm fluids like soup or herbal tea can help soothe the throat and ensure the infected person stays hydrated. Be sure to eat and drink slowly, as the pain makes choking more likely.

elderly man with painful throat kazuma seki/ Getty Images


Muscle Pain

Strep infections can cause aching muscles, stiff joints, and general malaise. This is common to most infections because the white blood cells released to fight off the bacterial invaders cause inflammation throughout the body. Staying hydrated, taking warm baths and using a heating pad on the sore spots, and resting as much as possible will help manage these symptoms while the body manages the infection.

Shot of an mature man holding his shoulder in pain indoors ljubaphoto/ Getty Images


White, Patchy Throat

Many infections, including strep, tonsillitis, and thrush, can cause white spots on the back of the throat and along the tonsils. These are usually collections of pus, another result of the influx of white blood cells recruited to fight the infection. Taking the prescribed antibiotics will help fight off the strep bacterium, and the white spots will go away as the body heals.

Young beautiful woman is openning her mouth and looking in mirror, in bathroom, in home. Ill throat's concept. b-d-s/ getty Images


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