Question: How do I know if my sore throat is just an ordinary infection or something more serious -- such as strep throat?
Answer: Determining whether your sore throat is just an ordinary sore throat or strep throat is sometimes difficult. However, with an ordinary sore throat, oftentimes you'll have a runny nose, watery eyes -- those classic cold symptoms, feeling a little bit tired. And that stuff will start to pass in about two, three days. Oftentimes you'll have an initial fever, which will go away in a day or two, and that's all going to be your regular sore throat.
The strep throat, however, may have a fever that lasts longer and you may start developing some enlarged lymph nodes in the front of the neck that are oftentimes painful. Many times with the strep throat you may notice some white patches in the back of your throat, but not always -- and not all white patches are strep throat. You can oftentimes get a rash, a fine lacey rash on the body. Oftentimes people will get headache with a strep throat and you can get some stomach upset and nausea.
All those things together can mean strep throat. Basically, I usually say to be checked if your sore throat is not responding and not getting better like your usual colds. When it starts prolonging, when it starts getting longer than a few days, then it's time to get checked and have your doctor find out whether you really do have a strep throat or not.