An aching throat, strep throat?

Viruses are the most common cause of a sore throat. However, strep throat is an infection in the throat and tonsils caused by bacteria called group A Streptococcus (group A strep).

People who are infected spread the bacteria by coughing or sneezing, which creates small respiratory droplets that contain the bacteria.

Strep is contagious and requires antibiotic treatment. Our medical team can perform a group A strep test and get you feeling better.

Symptoms of strep throat

The symptoms of strep throat can start suddenly. They include:

  • Sore throat.
  • Difficulty swallowing.
  • Red or swollen tonsils.
  • Tiny red spots at the back of your mouth.
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
  • Fever or headache.
  • Body aches or chills.

Diagnosing strep throat

Many of the symptoms above can be caused by viral infections and other illnesses. That’s why our medical team will conduct a test to confirm strep. Our IMC Immediate Medical Care centers are equipped to test for strep.

After a physical exam by our medical team, examining the patient for signs and symptoms of strep throat, one of the following test will probably be recommended:

1. Rapid antigen test
Your doctor will likely first perform a rapid antigen test on a swab sample from your throat. This test can detect strep bacteria in minutes by looking for substances (antigens) in the throat. If the test is negative but your doctor still suspects strep, he or she might do a throat culture.

2. Throat culture
If strep throat is still suspected after the Rapid antigen test, a throat culture may be recommended. A sterile swab is rubbed over the back of the throat and tonsils to get a sample of the secretions. It’s not painful, but it may cause gagging. The sample is then cultured in a laboratory for the presence of bacteria, but results can take as long as two days.