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Know the Difference: Strep Throat Symptoms vs. COVID-19 Symptoms

By February 1, 2021August 20th, 2021No Comments

A sore throat doesn’t automatically mean you have COVID-19. In reality, a study completed in China found that only 14 percent of 55,000 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 actually had a sore throat. Still, if you have a sore throat that persists for more than a day, you should get tested for COVID and strep throat both.

Understandably, since the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, people are alarmed when they wake up with a sore throat. Some COVID-19 symptoms are similar to strep throat symptoms, so it’s important to know the differences between them and get tested as soon as possible. A guide of symptoms to look out for can make it easier to deal with anxiety about contracting COVID, and help navigate illness during a major pandemic. Strep throat, though not nearly as dangerous as COVID-19, needs to be treated promptly with antibiotics or complications can occur.

It’s important to understand that the two conditions have very different causes. Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria. COVID-19 is caused by a respiratory virus called the 2019 novel coronavirus (also known as SARS-CoV-2). However, both are spread by airborne droplets. Coughing, sneezing, and even talking near another can spread strep throat and COVID-19. 

Some similarities in the symptoms include fever, headaches, body aches, and vomiting; and many can be lessened with over the counter medications. While strep throat symptoms can be treated with OTC medicines, strep throat itself must be treated with antibiotics. There are no medications to cure COVID-19 currently but symptoms can be treated. Many treatments are currently being developed.

Some of the key symptoms specific to strep throat are:


  • Pain when swallowing
  • Swollen red tonsils or tonsils with pus/ white patches
  • Tiny red spots on roof of mouth
  • Swollen lymph nodes at front of neck

Some of the key symptoms specific to COVID-19 are:


  • Coughing 
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Diarrhea

It’s important to get tested if you think you or someone you’ve been in contact with has COVID-19. You can still spread COVID-19 even if you don’t have symptoms. The convenient myphysician360™ COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit allows you to take a diagnostically-accurate COVID-19 saliva test right from home that lets you know if you have an active coronavirus infection. 

And of course, if you feel any of the urgent symptoms listed below, call 911 or go to a hospital as soon as possible. 

  • Shortness of breath
  • Worsening cough 
  • Persistent pain/ pressure in the chest
  • Confusion or inability to stay awake 
  • Blue face or lips