10 Warning Signs You Might Have Strep Throat

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Strep throat (also known as streptococcal pharyngitis) is an infection caused by the bacterium group A Streptococcus. These bacteria live in the nose and throat but can also cause infections in other parts of the body, such as the bloodstream, skin and soft tissue, joints, bones, and heart valves. Strep throat infections happen most often in children from 5-to 15 years old, but they

10 Warning Signs You Might Have Strep Throat

Can occur at any age. If you think you might have strep throat, look out for these warning signs before seeking treatment from your doctor.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there are 10 common warning signs of strep throat, or streptococcal pharyngitis, that you can look out for in yourself or others. If you see any of these symptoms in yourself or anyone else within 24 hours of coming down with what looks like strep throat, see your doctor immediately to get tested and treated before it turns into something worse than just a sore throat. [1]

Abdominal pain

It’s possible to have strep throat without any throat symptoms. Symptoms of bacterial tonsillitis which might include sore throat, fever, and headache can also mimic appendicitis or other abdominal conditions. In that case, you may have pain in your abdomen or lower back that isn’t related to your stomach or intestinal area. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting as well as chills and fatigue. Always get checked out by a doctor if you think it’s strep throat instead of appendicitis because treatment for strep is easier and less invasive than surgery for an inflamed appendix.

Foul breath

Certain bacteria and viruses can cause bad breath. If you have strep throat, it’s not uncommon to have bad breath. There are plenty of other reasons for foul mouth odor, but if your breath smells a bit like ammonia or skunk spray, don’t rule out strep throat. White patches on your tonsils: Streptococcal bacteria typically present as white patches on your tonsils (and sometimes on your tongue), so check for them when looking for symptoms of strep throat. A lot of sore throats aren’t strep infections at all; they’re caused by viruses that don’t come with white patches.

A lump in your neck

It might be infected lymph nodes, but you might have strep throat. Lymph nodes are infection-fighting glands that swell when your body is fighting an infection. If you have a sore throat and swollen lymph nodes, it could mean you’re coming down with strep throat — or something else. Because of that, we recommend seeing a doctor if your neck glands become swollen and painful along with other symptoms of strep throat (especially fever and nausea). Getting antibiotics early can help prevent complications from developing. It’s better to see a doctor in a smaller emergency room than to wait for hours in an urgent care center.

White spots on the roof of your mouth

The most common symptom of strep throat is pain when swallowing. However, you can also experience white spots on your tongue or the roof of your mouth. These are known as Loeffler’s lesions, which are caused by large numbers of streptococcal bacteria entering your bloodstream through an abrasion in your throat. The white spots develop over time and might appear before other symptoms begin to show, so it’s important to look out for them — they’re a sign that you have an infection of some kind in your body, even if it isn’t strep throat. The appearance of these white spots indicates that your immune system is trying to fight off an infection in addition to any strep symptoms you may be experiencing 

Swollen gums

The gums can swell and become very tender, making it difficult to open your mouth. Red, blue, or purple spots: It’s not uncommon for someone with strep throat to develop petechiae (pronounced: puh-TEE-kee-eye), which are tiny red or purple spots that form on the skin. Body aches: If you have strep throat, you may also experience body aches, particularly in your back and abdomen. Fever: A fever is a common symptom of many illnesses including strep throat. If you suspect that you’re experiencing a high fever related to an infection, especially if you also have other symptoms such as sore throat and swollen tonsils — see a doctor right away.

Small red bumps around your lips and nose

As strep throat progresses, you may develop small red bumps called petechiae (pronounced pee-tee-key) on your upper body, arms, and legs. These will appear where capillaries are damaged. They’re a sign that your immune system is overreacting to some foreign substance. The good news is that you’ll probably only see them for a few days.

White circles around your eyes

Red eyes are commonly associated with strep throat and while they may be annoying, they aren’t a sign that you have strep throat. However, if your eyes turn white it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor. White spots on your tonsils: A few small red patches on your tonsils can be a sign of an infection but if there are large white areas then you should check in with your doctor. In most cases, these white patches indicate strep throat but it can also be another condition like mononucleosis or tonsillitis. Throat pain or tenderness: There are many reasons why you might have pain or tenderness in your throat but soreness could also mean you have a virus-like mono and not strep.

 Rashes on your skin (not necessarily related to fever)

Rashes are not always a symptom of strep throat, but when they are, it’s usually because your body is having an allergic reaction to something you’ve come into contact with. Some common rashes and their causes include Fever blisters (caused by a herpes simplex virus). Folliculitis (caused by a staph or strep bacteria) — This is one of those cases where you may think strep throat is causing your symptoms when in reality it’s just something else altogether.

Facial drooping or twitching

If you have facial drooping or twitching, it could be an indication of a brain problem. This is most likely to happen after you’ve had a stroke, but can also occur with other conditions affecting your brain. Drooping or twitching is often accompanied by other symptoms, such as problems speaking and difficulty moving your eyes. In some cases, facial drooping or twitching may develop for no known reason (idiopathic dystonia). In other cases, it’s due to low oxygen levels in your blood (hypoxia). Some medications can also cause drooping or twitching of your face.

Trouble keeping your balance or walking straight

If you have trouble standing or walking straight, that may be a sign of vertigo. Vertigo is a common symptom of inner ear problems, such as vestibular migraines. It is described as a feeling that your surroundings are spinning or shifting. If you have vision problems or feel like your balance has been affected in any way, make an appointment with your doctor right away. If left untreated, vertigo can lead to serious complications. In extreme cases, it could even cause death.

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