The Difference Between Strep Throat and Tonsillitis


We at OOA want to make sure that our patients are as educated and informed as possible. Of course we want to have you come see us as your ENT experts, and—we want you to take part in your own health, and have awareness about your own symptoms so you know when it is time to come in and see us.

There can be a lot of confusion for some people in terms of what their symptoms mean. At the end of the day, you will need to come in and get checked out no matter what, but, in the meantime we want you to be thinking about the possibilities.

A question that we often hear from our patients:

What is the difference between strep throat and tonsillitis?

The first two differences are as follows: Strep throat is caused by group A Streptococcus bacteria, while Tonsillitis can be caused by viruses or bacteria.

You may have heard the terms tonsillitis and strep throat used interchangeably, but this is not accurate. It is possible to have tonsillitis without having strep throat, but you could also get tonsillitis from other bacteria and viruses.

Tonsillitis and strep throat also have many similar symptoms. This is because strep throat can be considered a type of tonsillitis. With that being said, people with strep throat will usually have additional symptoms.

Symptoms of Tonsillitis:

Large, tender lymph nodes in the neck, sore throat, redness and swelling in the tonsils, difficulty or pain when swallowing, fever, stiff neck, upset stomach, white or yellow discoloration on or around your tonsils and headache.

Symptoms of Strep Throat:

Large, tender lymph nodes in the neck, sore throat, small red spots on the roof of your mouth, difficulty or pain when swallowing, higher fever than in people with tonsillitis, body aches, nausea or vomiting, especially in children, swollen, red tonsils with white streaks of pus and headache.

As you can see, there are many similarities between the two types of infection. And—there are also a number of differences. Please use this blog as a reference for yourself if you are wondering what may be going on with you.

And—be sure to come in and see us, regardless.

We at OOA are your ENT experts. We want to make sure you are happy, healthy and well taken care of.