Strep Throat & Flu Tips

First it’s that rough feeling, like you swallowed a bit of sandpaper. You know what’s next: a sore throat. Is it the start of a cold, strep — or something else?

“For most sore throats, you probably don’t need to see a doctor. You can treat it with over-the-counter remedies, take time off from work, and rest,” says Jeffrey A. Linder, MD, MPH. He’s an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Most sore throats are caused by viral infections, such as a cold or flu, but sometimes it can be strep throat. Often you’ll have other symptoms like a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, a mild fever, and fatigue with a cold or flu virus.
If your sore throat is from a virus, antibiotics won’t help. Instead, gargle with warm salt water and use over-the-counter treatments like lozenges and sprays.

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pyogenes. Common signs and symptoms include:

  • fever
  • a sore, red throat with white patches
  • a headache
  • chills
  • a loss of appetite
  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • trouble swallowing

What is the Flu?

Influenza or the flu is a viral infection that targets your respiratory system. Some signs and symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Aching muscles
  • Chills and sweats
  • Headache
  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Sore throat

Tips for Prevention

  • Wash your hands with warm, soapy water
  • Contain your coughs and sneezes – cough or sneeze into a tissue or into the inner crook of your elbow
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Don’t share personal items
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces or objects
  • Stay at home when you are sick

Take care of yourself – try to get enough sleep, eat well, drink lots of fluids, and exercise.

Sources: Mayo Clinic & Centres for Disease Control & Prevention