Strep throat

  • Alternative Names

    Pharyngitis - streptococcal; Streptococcal pharyngitis


    Symptoms may be mild or severe. You usually start to feel sick about 2 to 5 days after you come in contact with the bacteria.

    Symptoms usually begin suddenly, and can include:

    • Fever that begins suddenly and is often highest on the second day
    • Red throat, sometimes with white patches
    • Sore throat
    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Chills
    • General ill feeling
    • Loss of appetite and abnormal taste
    • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
    • Difficulty swallowing

    Some strains of strep throat can lead to a scarlet fever-like rash. This rash is thought to be an allergic reaction to toxins made by the strep bacteria.

    Signs and tests

    A rapid test can be done in most health care provider offices, but misses a few of the cases.

    If the rapid strep test is negative and your health care provider still thinks you or your child may have strep, a throat swab can be tested (cultured) to see if strep grows from it. However, it will take one to two days for results to come back.