Sore throat? Find Out If It's Viral or Strep

by Statcare Urgent Medical Care

A sore throat (pharyngitis) is a common problem and it is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. 

Viruses can cause a sore throat and other upper respiratory infections, such as the common cold. Sore throat caused by a virus is not treated with antibiotics but instead may be treated with rest, pain medication, and other therapies aimed at relieving symptoms. 

Strep throat is a particular kind of pharyngitis that is caused by a bacterium known as group A streptococcus (GAS). Strep throat is treated with a course of antibiotics.

Viral Pharyngitis - Most people with a sore throat have a virus.

Symptoms of a viral infection can include:

  • A runny or congested nose
  • Irritation or redness of the eyes
  • Cough, hoarseness, or soreness in the roof of the mouth.
  • Some viruses cause a fever

Influenza (flu) virus is a common cause of sore throat during the flu season. Antiviral medication is indicated if your symptoms started within 72 hours.

Strep Pharyngitis - Approximately 10% of adults with a sore throat have strep throat.


  • Pain in the throat
  • Fever (temperature greater than 100.4ºF)
  • Enlarged lymph glands in the neck
  • White patches of pus on the side or back of the throat
  • No cough, runny nose or irritation/redness of the eyes.

When to seek urgent help:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Skin rash
  • Drooling because you cannot swallow
  • Swelling of the neck or tongue
  • Stiff neck or difficulty opening the mouth
  • Underlying chronic illness/medication that may impair your immune system.

At Statcare Urgent Medical Care, we can diagnose your streptococcal throat infection by a rapid strep test, which takes less than 5 minutes to yield a result. We also have an in-house rapid flu test available to diagnose influenza, if indicated.

No appointment is necessary at our clinics and you’ll only wait minutes to be seen. You can call ahead at (855) 9 FOR DOC and let us know you’re on the way or you can check in online.

Source: CDC

When to seek urgent help — See your doctor or nurse immediately if you have a sore throat along with any of the following: