ENT Center of Austin - Doctor's Blog

What's the Difference Between Strep, a Sore Throat and Tonsillitis?

Could the simple answer be: They're all spelled differently? If you answered that, you have a keen grasp of the obvious.

So, What's The Difference?

Strep and Sore Throat Differences

Lots of people use the terms, thinking they mean the same. They're not. Bottom lines:

  • When you or your child has strep throat, they have an infection which comes to haunt because of Streptococcus. That's a certain kind of bacteria. The tonsils do get swollen, but other parts of the throat are also involved.
  • Tonsillitis is specific. It relates only to inflamed tonsils.
  • Then there are a slew of other reasons -- like a virus -- that can bring-on the hurt by expanding the tissue in the throat and never jump-over to the tonsils.


How Do We Diagnose the Three?

When your child gets up in the morning, she may have a sore throat. Give her a drink of water. It should go away. If the soreness continues, make an appointment with the ENT Center of Austin. The child may not show any other symptoms: Stomach ache, fever, headache or listlessness. You're truly looking for signs such as trouble breathing, swallowing, drooling or they appear to be pretty sick. When you see that kind of stuff, we should see your child ASAP.

Let's say we suspect strep. The results take only a few minutes. It comes back negative. That tells us it's a virus. Antibiotics won't help.

What if the child has strep throat? At that point the prudent thing is to take the prescription we give you to the pharmacist. We can likewise give her a shot here at our offices. Oral medication? Don't skip a dose.

The child seems to be getting better. Don't stop the medication. Take the full amount no matter what.

Pulling back too quickly, things can get worse. Maybe even spread to other parts of her body. Left untreated it could damage the kidneys and heart.

Whatever the case, get treatment. Now.

Can I Prevent It?

Sure can, kinda.

Don't expose your little one to people who are sick. The biggest problem is most people don't show signs of an infection right away. How are you to see into the future and tell that another person is infectious during an incubation period?

Here's where the kinda part comes in. There's really no practical way to ward-off the disease.

Back in the day, when a young one had a series of sore throats, a common rule would be to take out the tonsils. In the 21st century, that procedure is only recommended in the most severe cases. Usually a regimen of antibiotics should fix him or her right up.

But as we've been recommending over-and-over, get thee or ye child to a doctor. 

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    Austin, Texas 78746
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