Aug 18, 2023
Written By Dr. Jill Grimes
Thread Health Doctor and College Health Expert
Strep throat is a common and certainly painful illness that affects people of all ages, but it's especially important to recognize the symptoms in teens and early adults. Early detection and treatment can help prevent complications and keep yourself or your teen healthy. In this blog post, we'll discuss the key signs of strep throat and when to seek medical attention.
Thread Health is a healthcare service specifically designed for teens and young adults. Our friendly and professional team is dedicated to providing the best care possible, with a focus on communication and ease of access. We understand the unique challenges that teens face and are here to help with any health concerns, including identifying and treating strep throat. Let's dive into the symptoms and how to spot them.
Sign #1: Fever
A true fever is defined as a body temperature greater than 100.5°F (38°C). It's one of the key signs to look for when determining whether your teen might have strep throat. But how do you accurately measure their temperature?
Using a thermometer is the best way to measure body temperature. There are several types of thermometers available, such as digital, ear, or forehead thermometers. Make sure to follow the instructions provided with your thermometer to ensure accurate readings.
So, why is fever significant in identifying strep throat? A fever often indicates an infection, and in the case of strep throat, it's the body's response to the bacteria causing the illness. Keep in mind that not all sore throats come with a fever, but its presence increases the likelihood of strep throat and warrants further investigation.
Sign #2: Enlarged Red Tonsils
Checking your teen's tonsils is an essential step in identifying strep throat. All you need is a mirror and a light source, such as a flashlight or your phone's torch. Here's how to do it:
Ask your teen to stand in front of a mirror and open their mouth wide.
Shine the light towards the back of their throat, focusing on the area where the tonsils are located (on either side of the throat, behind the tongue).
Observe the appearance of the tonsils and compare them to what's normal for your teen.
In strep throat, the tonsils usually appear enlarged, red, and inflamed. They may also have a "beefy" or "fire-engine red" appearance, which is quite different from the usual pinkish color of healthy tonsils.
Another possible symptom of strep throat is the presence of pus on the tonsils. This may appear as white or yellow spots or streaks on the inflamed tonsils. Keep in mind that not all cases of strep throat will have visible pus, but its presence increases the likelihood of a strep infection.
Sign #3: Swollen Nodes
Swollen lymph nodes are another sign to watch for when determining if your teen has strep throat. To check for tender lymph nodes, follow these steps:
Ask your teen to tilt their head back slightly to expose the front part of their neck.
Gently press your fingers along the sides of their neck, feeling for any swollen or tender areas.
Take note of any discomfort your teen feels or any noticeable swelling.
Swollen and tender lymph nodes in the front part of the neck are often associated with strep throat. When the body is fighting an infection like strep, the lymph nodes work to filter out harmful substances and produce immune cells. As a result, they may become enlarged and tender to the touch. If your teen has swollen nodes alongside other strep throat symptoms, it's essential to seek medical attention to receive an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Sign #4: Lack of Cough
Interestingly, the absence of cough can also be an indicator of strep throat. While it may seem counterintuitive, a lack of cough can help differentiate between a viral sore throat and strep throat.
Viral sore throats, such as those caused by the common cold or flu, often present with a cough as the body tries to clear the infection. On the other hand, strep throat, which is caused by bacteria, typically does not cause a cough. So if your teen has a sore throat without a cough, it might be more likely to be strep throat.
Keep in mind that this symptom alone is not enough to confirm a strep throat diagnosis. It's essential to consider all the signs discussed in this article and consult a healthcare professional, such as the expert team at Thread Health, for a proper evaluation and treatment plan.
When to Reach Out to Thread Health
Now that we've covered the four main signs of strep throat (fever, swollen red tonsils, tender lymph nodes, and no cough), it's essential to know when to seek medical attention. If your teen is experiencing multiple signs, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Thread Health is here to help with any teen health concerns, including diagnosing and treating strep throat. Our friendly and professional team is dedicated to providing the best care possible, with a focus on communication and ease of access. Connecting with Thread Health physicians is simple and can be done through text or video calls.
Don't hesitate to reach out to Thread Health if you suspect your teen may have strep throat. Early detection and treatment can help prevent complications and keep your teen healthy and happy.
Early detection and treatment of strep throat in teens are crucial to preventing complications and ensuring a swift recovery. Recognizing the signs of strep throat and seeking medical attention when necessary can make a significant difference in your teen's well-being.
Thread Health is here to support you and your teen with any health concerns. Our friendly and professional team is dedicated to providing the best care possible, with a focus on communication and ease of access. We encourage you to utilize Thread Health services for all your teen health concerns, including strep throat. Together, we can keep your teen healthy and happy.