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March 6, 2017 | Health Advice

Influenza (flu) & Strep Throat

Influenza (flu) and Strep Throat Season is Here

Flu and strep throat may seem like one and the same, but they are different illnesses. The flu is caused by a virus and strep throat is caused by bacteria.

Strep throat and influenza may also share some symptoms, but the key symptomatic differences help to tell them apart in diagnosis. Both illnesses are highly contagious and can result in harmful complications – especially for at-risk groups like seniors, children, pregnant women, and those with weaker immune systems.

One of the perks of living in Hudson, WI is that it is a close-knit community but when it comes to influenza & strep throat, that can be a pitfall too. Both are passed along when a sick person sneezes or coughs and the virus becomes airborne. So, if you are sick it is best to stay home and if you are healthy it is best to limit your exposure to someone who is ill.

Influenza (Flu) and Strep Throat differences

Influenza (flu)Strep throat
OverviewViral infection attacks your respiratory system (mainly nose, throat, and lungs)Bacterial infection makes your throat feel sore and scratchy
TypesTypes of influenza viruses: A, B, and C.Streptococcal infections are of 2 types: Group A and Group B.
Affected body partsThe flu affects the upper and lower respiratory tract (nose, throat, bronchi, lungs).Throat and the tonsils.
Symptoms
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • In some cases nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Sudden high fever
  • Sore red throat
  • White spots on the throat
  • Headache
  • Stomachache
  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck & difficulty swallowing
  • Symptoms of strep throat may appear within 5 days of exposure to bacteria
ComplicationsIf the flu is left untreated, it can result in complications – bronchitis, pneumonia, aggravation of other conditions, sinus infection, and ear infections.Spread of infection – tonsils, sinuses, skin, blood, middle ear.Inflammatory reactions – scarlet fever, inflammation of the kidney (poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis), rheumatic fever.
TreatmentBy scheduling a visit with your doctor for treatment with antiviral medications for the flu or antibiotics for strep throat, washing your hands often, drinking plenty of fluids and staying home to rest, you can help prevent the spread of influenza and strep throat.

Symptoms of Influenza

The symptoms of influenza, known to most of us as the flu, can range from having a fever or feeling feverish/chills to vomiting. Other common symptoms are a sore throat, runny nose, body aches, headaches, and fatigue. As soon as you feel like you are coming down with the flu it is best to start treating it. An adult is infectious even before they start to present with symptoms and they are contagious up to seven days after they become sick. Children are often contagious for even longer.

Serious complications can arise from the influenza virus. Some people can develop upper and lower respiratory infections and pneumonia which can lead to the need for hospitalizations.

Influenza can cause serious health issues for several groups of people, ranging from the young to the elderly. Even normal healthy adults may need to be hospitalized due to complications with the flu.

Prevention and Treatment of Influenza

The first step in protecting yourself, your family, and the greater community against the flu is to get your yearly flu shot. The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months or older receive a flu shot every year. It is recommended for people to get their flu shot as soon as it becomes available through their local clinics but mid to late October is really the latest you should wait to receive the vaccine. Unfortunately, now it is late in the season for this year and many clinics no longer offer the vaccine.

The next step in prevention is to stay home if you are sick. If you are healthy it is best to limit your exposure to someone who is ill.

The final step that is most likely the easiest, but is often overlooked, is to wash your hands often. This helps to slow down the transfer of the virus. If you cannot wash your hands, use an alcohol-based sanitizer.

If you do become ill with the flu your doctor can prescribe some antiviral drugs to help shorten the time that you are sick and/or contagious, but remember that rest is best. Strep Throat season is here too.

Along with Influenza comes the perfect conditions for strep throat. While most people think of strep throat as something that is usually a childhood illness, it can affect adults also. Just like influenza, it loves to be shared by whole communities.

Symptoms of Strep Throat

The symptoms of strep throat often are a sore throat that makes it difficult to swallow, fever, red and swollen tonsils, tiny red bumps on the roof of the mouth, and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Other symptoms may include a headache, stomach pain, nausea, and possibly vomiting.

Strep throat is caused by a bacteria and usually responds well to antibiotics. If you find yourself thinking that your sore throat is more than just the normal tenderness caused by the dry air, schedule an appointment with your doctor to get a strep test done. The antibiotics will help your body heal faster.

If you do become ill with the flu or strep throat, it is best to take precautions so that you do not pass it along to your family, friends, and community. By scheduling a visit with your doctor for treatment with antiviral medications for the flu or antibiotics for strep throat, washing your hands often and staying home to rest, you can help prevent the spread of influenza and strep throat.