Even if you’re not a doc, you can get an inkling of the difference between strep throat and a sore throat just by taking a quick peek into your child’s mouth. Strep throat is a bacterial infection caused by the streptococcus bacterium and is typically diagnosed by a red throat with or without pus. Moms and docs also tend to note a distinctive odor—“strep breath”—that smells different (and worse) than when Junior has a cold. If the sore throat is present without nasal dripping, then it’s most likely strep and not a cold or other infection.
Your child may feel a little more lethargic; have a fever, and even stomach pain, or none of the above. If you suspect strep, you’ll want to have your child’s throat swabbed and the cells cultured to ID whether the bacteria are present. If your kid is getting more than five or six strep infections a year, it’s worth a visit to the ear, nose, and throat doc, or pediatric otolaryngologist, to see if she needs to have her tonsils taken out, as they may be hiding grounds for the little strep buggers.
Answer excerpted from You Raising Your Child