What Does Strep Throat Look Like? Signs And Symptoms

Inflammation of the mucous lining of the throat is referred to as strep throat, which looks like reddening of mucous membranes and appearance of white mucopurulent discharge on them. Signs of strep throat are sore throat and rise of temperature, which can be observed in case of other diseases as well. Only otolaryngologist can accurately identify these diseases. In case pharyngitis is accompanied by rise of body temperature above 38°, which not normalize for more than 5 days, then it is required visit a clinic to exclude other, more threatening pathologies.

Strep throat is inflammation of the mucous lining of the throat, induced by a certain viral agent. Most often, pharyngitis has infectious nature and is usually combined with acute rhinitis, tonsillitis or laryngitis (inflammation of the larynx). This very disease can take an independent course or it can have symptoms, analogous with those of flu, measles, scarlet fever, etc.

Isolated strep throat can also appear in the result of general or local cold. It is also common in new employees of chemical industries in adaptation period.

What symptoms accompany strep throat?

The basic symptom of strep throat is throat pain, which aggravates during swallowing. Meanwhile, intensity of pain reduces after drinking warm, not irritating liquid (e.g. warmed milk or tea). Pain can irradiate to ears, up to creating an illusion of congestion. The last phenomenon is explained by decrease in hearing, associated with swelling of mucous membranes of throat openings and eustachian tubes. Besides, the patient may experience dryness and “scratching” in the throat.


Among general symptoms of strep throat are rise of temperature, but not above average values (37-38°) and weakness. The clinical picture is much more expressed in children – higher body temperature and greatly affected somatic condition.

Visual symptoms of strep throat

Inflammation of throat can be seen by an unaided eye. The picture particularly involves white mucopurulent discharge on the back wall of the throat, swelling and reddening of the mucous membrane, which spreads further to faucial pillars and the tongue. Lymphadenoid follicles (“granules” of lymphatic tissue), located on the back wall of the throat, are reddened and distinctly show through the mucous membrane.

strep throat

Symptoms, not associated with the throat, include swelling of regional lymph nodes (submandibular, postaural, etc.)

What else can look like step throat?

Apart from acute pharyngitis, a number of other common diseases have the symptom of sore throat. They include:

- Chronic pharyngitis. The difference: dull pain, interchanged periods of remission and exacerbation, in some cases no rise of temperature observed. External image of the throat varies depending on the type of pharyngitis – catarrhal, hypertrophic or atrophic.

Chronic pharyngitis

- Tonsillitis or quinsy, which also has several varieties: catarrhal, follicular, lacunar, fusospirochetal (Vincent’s disease) and necrotic. Visual signs for each of the types are different, but the main difference from pharyngitis is in concentration of the process in tonsils, and not on the mucous membrane of the throat.


- Varieties of pharyngomycosis – candidiasis and leptotrichosis. The latter involves almost no pain, but the presence of white spots (bumps) on throat, can make it associated with pharyngitis. Candidamycosis, just the other way about, goes in line with typical “pharyngitis-like” pain in the throat, but is quite different externally: the oral cavity and especially the throat, are covered with characteristic fungal patches.


What should one do, when observing signs of strep throat?

The treatment of pharyngitis should be started with renouncing food and drinks that irritate the mucous membrane. It is required to use alkaline solutions (available at drug stores) to gargle the throat or applying antiseptic inhalation therapy and tablets to suck. It is important to keep in mind that this disease does not assume contraindication of antibiotics. However, they can be prescribed only by a specialist, based on rise of temperature or advancement of the infection to tonsils, prenasal sinuses or lungs. Therefore, rise of body temperature above 38° or pharyngitis, which protracts for more than 5 days, should constitute a reason for consulting an otolaryngologist.