Difference Between Flu and Strep Symptoms

Flu and Strep Symptoms: What is the Difference?

Flu and strep throat are both common illnesses that can cause a wide range of symptoms. While they may present some similar signs, they are caused by different viruses and bacteria and require different treatments. Understanding the differences between flu and strep symptoms can help individuals identify which illness they are suffering from and seek the appropriate care.

Flu Symptoms

The flu (influenza) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by the influenza virus. It can cause mild to severe symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches, fatigue, chills, and dry cough. In some cases, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea can also be present.

Strep Symptoms

Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by Streptococcus bacteria, which is commonly spread through the saliva or nasal mucus of an infected person. It typically causes a sore throat, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and white patches in the throat. Other symptoms may include headache, fatigue, loss of appetite, and difficulty swallowing.

Diagnosis and Treatment

The diagnosis of flu and strep throat is typically based on the patient’s symptoms and a physical examination. For a more definitive diagnosis, a healthcare provider may order a laboratory test, such as a throat culture or rapid strep test, to confirm the presence of strep bacteria.

Flu is usually treated with rest, fluids, and over-the-counter medications to reduce fever and relieve other symptoms. Antibiotics are not effective against the virus that causes the flu. Strep throat, on the other hand, is usually treated with antibiotics.


Flu and strep throat can both cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may overlap. However, it is important to note that they are caused by different viruses and bacteria, and require different treatments. If you are experiencing symptoms of either illness, it is important to see a healthcare provider for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Difference between Flu and Strep Symptoms

Flu Symptoms

Flu symptoms are typically more severe than those of a common cold and can include fever, chills, headache, sore throat, runny nose, muscle aches, and extreme fatigue. Other flu symptoms can include coughing, chest congestion, and stomach upset. Rarely, a patient may experience confusion or seizures. It is important to note that the flu is a viral infection, and therefore antibiotics will not be effective in treating the flu.

Strep Throat Symptoms

Strep throat is caused by a bacterial infection and is typically characterized by a sudden onset of a sore throat with pain that may be severe and accompanied by fever, swollen lymph nodes, and other symptoms. Common strep throat symptoms include a sore throat with white patches on the tonsils, difficulty swallowing, swollen and tender lymph nodes, fever, and headache. Strep throat can easily be diagnosed with a rapid strep test or throat culture and is typically treated with antibiotics.

Distinguishing Symptoms

It is important to be able to distinguish between the symptoms of the flu and strep throat since they have different treatments. The most significant distinguishing symptom is fever. Fever is more commonly seen with the flu, while strep throat typically includes fever in combination with other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, white patches in the throat, and difficulty swallowing. Additionally, the flu can cause body aches and extreme fatigue, while strep throat is characterized by sore throat and difficulty swallowing.

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