Tonsillitis vs Strep Throat: What's the Differences?

A:
Parents often confuse tonsillitis and strep throat. Both of them have something to do with a sore throat, difficulty swallowing and drinking and usually swollen tonsils. However, there are actually much difference between the two. An example of this is the fact that strep throat can only be caused by infection of group A Streptococcus bacteria. Here are more differences:

group A Streptococcus bacteria, swollen tonsils and tonsillitis and strep throat
Normal tonsils and swollen tonsils

Symptoms: swollen tonsils and others

Tonsillitis and strep throat have very similar symptoms, which makes it difficult to tell one from the other. However, there are some unique symptoms of strep throat:

  • small, red spots on the roof of your mouth;
  • higher fever than in people with tonsilltis;
  • body aches;
  • nausea or vomitting, especially in children;
  • swollen, red tonsils with white streaks of pus;
  • rash.

Cause of infection: group A Streptococcus bacteria or not

Tonsillitis and strep throat are caused by different reasons. Tonsillitis can be a result of various bacteria, viruses and common flus. On the other hand, strep throat is caused specifically by group A Streptococcus bacteria.

group A Streptococcus bacteria, swollen tonsils and tonsillitis and strep throat
Group A Streptococcus bacteria under electronic microscope

Severity of tonsillitis and strep throat:

Strep throat is a problem far more severe than tonsillitis. Sometimes your tonsillitis will go away even if you do nothing about it. However, if you leave strep throat untreated, it can lead to severe complications, such as ear infection, rheumatic fever and even kidney failure.

Treatment:

For tonsillitis caused by a virus, there is no need for antibiotics. You will get better simply by taking some home remedies. For example, drink plenty of warm tea and take OTC pain medicines.

group A Streptococcus bacteria, swollen tonsils and tonsillitis and strep throat
Antibiotics

For tonsillitis caused by bacteria, antibiotics will surely help you get better. However, to completely get rid of this type of tonsillitis, you need to stick to your course of antibiotics. It usually lasts for 10 days.

As for treating strep throat, most people prefer antibiotics, as they are strong weapons to kill group A Streptococcus bacteria. You may also try a number of home remedies. Here are a few things you may want to try:

  • drink warm water with a small amount of salt.
  • exercise.
  • eat soft food.
  • take OTCs.
group A Streptococcus bacteria, swollen tonsils and tonsillitis and strep throat
Drink warm water with salt

Keywords: tonsillitis vs strep throat.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.