COVID or Strep Throat: How to Tell the Difference?

COVID or Strep ThroatCOVID or Strep Throat: How to Tell the Difference?

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, waking up with a sore throat is enough to send many people into a panic. However, there are many common illnesses besides COVID-19 that can cause a sore throat, including strep. Here, we’ll discuss the main differences between the two to help you better identify the signs of each illness. To find out definitively if you have either, visit your doctor for testing

The Causes of COVID vs. Strep Throat

One of the key differences between the two is the cause of the illness. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory infection caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2. The other however, is a bacterial infection that’s induced by group A Streptococcus bacteria. While COVID is a viral infection and strep throat is a bacterial infection, both can be spread through contact with airborne droplets from an infected individual.

The Symptoms of Both

While a sore throat is a possible symptom of an infection with coronavirus, not everyone infected with COVID-19 gets a sore throat. Strep, on the other hand, causes a sore throat in the majority of cases. 

Besides a sore throat, possible symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle/body aches 
  • Nasal congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • New loss of taste or smell

Besides a sore throat, possible symptoms of strep throat include:

  • Pain while swallowing
  • Red, swollen tonsils
  • White patches on the tonsils
  • Tiny red spots on the roof of the mouth
  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes at the front of the neck


Strep throat is generally considered a mild infection. While most COVID-19 infections are mild, some cases can escalate and may become life-threatening. 

Since strep is a bacterial infection, it can be successfully treated with antibiotics. COVID-19 is a viral infection, so antibiotics don’t have any effect on it. Currently, there’s no cure for COVID-19 and it’s mainly treated with self-care including over-the-counter pain relievers, rest, and drinking plenty of water. 

For comprehensive medical care for a sore throat in Port Richey and Trinity, schedule an appointment at Family Medical Centers today.