What are the Signs of Strep Throat in Adults?

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  • Written By: Diane Goettel
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 November 2018
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Although strep throat is most commonly associated with school-age children, it is also possible for adults to have this illness. The most common symptoms are soreness or pain in the throat, fever, swollen glands in the neck, and the appearance of spots of white pus at the back or on the sides of the throat. In many cases, adults experiencing these symptoms simply think that they have come down with a cold or with the flu and respond accordingly with rest, warm liquids, vitamins, and over-the-counter medicines that both relieve pain and reduce fevers. It is always best to visit a medical professional when experiencing any signs of illness than to try and manage it alone.

Adults experiencing two or more of the symptoms described above may have strep throat, which can be diagnosed in by a medical professional. Strep throat in adults can be diagnosed using one of two tests, a throat culture or a rapid test. The rapid test can be completed right in the healthcare provider's office, but the throat culture may take 24 to 48 hours for results. As such, medical professional often use the rapid test first. Adults who receive a negative result are usually given instructions to care for their sore throat with lozenges, sprays, and pain relievers.


Strep throat is often treated with a course of antibiotics, like penicillin or a similar drug, which is typically used for ten days. During this period of time, the patient can also care for her sore throat with hot herbal teas with honey, lozenges, and plenty of rest. Even if the symptoms go away in a few days, it is important for patients to finish the course of antibiotics as prescribed.

There are a few differences between strep throat in adults and strep throat in children. Children often experience headaches and discomfort in the abdominal region when they have this illness. They may also become nauseated and experience vomiting. These symptoms are not usually experienced by adults with strep. The symptoms that are shared by both children and adults include a sore throat, a low-grade fever, swelling in the neck, and white spots at the back of the throat.


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Post 2

My wife works in a hospital, and one day she asked me to look at the back of her throat. I could see a few white spots back there, and she said it hurt when I touched her neck during the exam. She said if it was truly a strep throat infection, she might have to take off a few days of work so she didn't spread it to the patients.

Her supervisor was a nurse practitioner, and she advised my wife to take antibiotics and treat the other strep symptoms with over-the-counter medications. My wife said she could have worked if she agreed to wear a surgical mask and avoid certain patients, but she decided she didn't want to take that risk.

Post 1

I went to my son's play at his elementary school a few months ago and I sat right in the middle of all of his classmates. I usually don't spend much time around children. A few days later, my throat started feeling very scratchy, but I didn't have a cold. Sore throat spray didn't really do much for the pain after a while. I looked up the symptoms of strep throat in adults on the Internet, and they sounded familiar.

Sure enough, my doctor used a swab to scrape some tissue from the back of my throat and the test came back positive for strep infection. I think I must have picked it up from one of the children, since I work out of my house and don't get out very often. It took two rounds of antibiotics to knock out that strep throat infection.

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