Strep throat, covid-19, and the flu are very common illnesses. Because of their prevalence, it is easy for patients to confuse one for the other.
At Live Urgent Care, we believe in patient empowerment and education. That’s why we focus on giving our patients the necessary tools and resources to make informed healthcare decisions. This article is meant to be a quick guide to the differences between strep throat, covid-19, and the flu.
Strep throat is caused by a particular bacteria called group A Streptococcus. This bacteria is highly contagious through air droplets from an infected person, like a cough or a sneeze. This bacteria also lives well on surfaces and can be transmitted through common touch points like doorknobs and work surfaces, and even through shared drinks or utensils.
Strep throat is very common in children, and a few common symptoms are helpful for diagnosing possible strep throat.
- Severe throat pain
- Fever over 100.4 oF
- Swollen throat glands
Additionally, there are other common symptoms of strep throat in both children and adults:
- Pain when swallowing
- Red, swollen tonsils
- Tiny red spots on the back and/or roof of the mouth
- Body aches
- Nausea or vomiting
Treating strep throat starts with a clear diagnosis. A strep throat test is an easy test to administer at an urgent care clinic and yields results in under 15 minutes.
Once a diagnosis is clear, a number of oral antibiotics may be prescribed, including penicillin, amoxicillin, cephalexin, and cefadroxil, to kill the strep throat bacteria and clear up symptoms.
Influenza A and B are caused by a virus that attacks the respiratory system. The spread of the flu is very similar to the way strep throat spreads. Contact with an infected person can lead to breathing in air droplets that contain the influenza virus. Shared surfaces also transfer the flu very well.
While the flu is normally not very serious, a few groups of people are at particular risk with regards to the flu:
- Children under 5 years old
- Adults over 65
- Nursing home residents
- Those with chronic diseases like asthma, heart disease, and kidney disease
Below are a few common symptoms of influenza.
- Muscle aches
- Chills and sweats
- Persistent cough
- Sore throat
In most flu instances, rest and drinking plenty of liquids is all you need to heal. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe one of many antiviral drugs, including oseltamivir (Tamiflu), zanamivir (Relenza), peramivir (Rapivab) or baloxavir (Xofluza). These drugs work to shorten the duration of your symptoms to help you feel better faster.
Covid-19 is caused by a particular coronavirus strain. This virus spreads most effectively from direct personal contact, particularly prolonged exposure in an enclosed environment. With all of the attention covid-19 has received, many people are very aware of possible covid-19 exposure and regularly test for the virus.
While new covid-19 variants often come with specific symptoms, here are a few common symptoms:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
In the majority of cases, covid-19 is not serious. Recent research has also led to a variety of treatments.
A number of antiviral drugs have proven helpful, including favipiravir and merimepodib. There are also anti-inflammatory drugs that may be helpful. In many cases, quarantine, rest, and time are enough for complete healing.
Book Your Care Today
Quality care begins with accurate results. At Live Urgent Care, we can quickly test you to confirm a diagnosis of strep throat, covid-19, or the flu.
Our urgent care centers are ready 7 days a week to help diagnose and treat your toughest illness. We also offer telehealth visits for added convenience. Find the location nearest you and book ahead whenever you need.