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Difference Between Strep Throat and Tonsillitis

Difference Between Strep Throat and Tonsillitis

The difference between strep throat and tonsillitis will help clear doubts about how the two are completely dissimilar. Learn about the causes of each condition and what symptoms they portray, making them completely opposite to one another.
HealthHearty Staff
I remember when I first had an encounter with tonsillitis and it wasn't a very memorable one at that. The symptoms in its case were classic tonsillitis and the inflammation had subsided, in about five days after unpleasant buttock shots from the doctor. Strep throat and tonsillitis are both easily curable when looked into during consultation, when the situation doesn't seem to improve or lessen in intensity. Tonsillitis is when the tonsils at the back of one's throat get inflamed due to an infection that causes it to enlarge and take on a swollen look with white patches / pus pockets all over.
The tonsils are the protruding bag-like bulges that are affixed on either side in one's throat, that usually come in line with anything that enters the mouth making it easily susceptible to an infection. Strep throat is when an infection is the cause that is brought on by a bacterium called the streptococcus pyogenes that affects not only the tonsils, but the pharynx and larynx as well.
Strep Throat Vs. Tonsillitis
Tonsillitis can lead up to doctors suggesting an extraction of the tonsils to avoid future severe infections in this area. I didn't have to forgo my tonsils and go through surgery, but instead went during a stage where the injections did the trick to rid the swelling and inflammation. Strep throat infections have a chance of spiraling out of control where the stomach is then affected with extreme pain, where this condition can escalate by bringing upon the child a case of rheumatoid fever and an infection in the kidneys. Kids fall prey to these infections more commonly than adults, and have to be kept an eye on for serious symptoms of the two conditions.
So while tonsillitis is brought on by an infection caused by a bacterium or virus, strep throat in particular is caused by the already mentioned, streptococcus pyogenes. There are different symptoms that both conditions bring on that are definitive to each kind.
Symptoms of Strep Throat
  • Feeling unwell and not an ease
  • Cervical lymph nodes are tender
  • Headaches
  • Lack of appetite
  • Not easy to swallow
  • Hives
  • Pain residing in the abdominal region
  • Rash
  • White pus on tonsils (similar symptom to tonsillitis)
  • Fever that shoots up beyond 102°F
  • Trouble with swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Skin starts to peel around the feet and areas of the hands
  • Fatigue
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Vomiting
  • Reddish coloring at the back of one's throat (sometimes these can be red spots on one's soft / hard palate)
Symptoms of Tonsillitis
  • Tiredness
  • Headaches
  • Extreme pain when swallowing saliva / food
  • Chills
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Sore throat sensations with pain in the ears
  • Fever
  • Coughing
  • In some cases one experience stomach pain that is abnormal
  • Bad breath (similar symptom to strep throat)
  • Neck glands swell up
  • Stuffy nose
  • Voice modulates from sounding its usual tone
It is important to visit a clinic and get your child treated for either of the two depending on how severe the signs are. You'll also notice how strep throat is a more serious problem than tonsillitis, being a condition that needs to be given immediate medical attention when the signs persist. These two conditions usually occur around the cold winter season, or when a child is constantly ingesting cold food items or drinks. Be sure to limit how many icy edibles your child is taking and don't ignore flu-like symptoms that may arise. Most cases are taken and classified as the common cold or flu but little do people know that it could be more than that.
Decongestants, over the counter medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen for throat pain or antihistamines are prescribed for those suffering from tonsillitis, where even strep throat is given the same medications when it comes to over the counter medicines. Depending on the severity of strep throat, the doctor will recommend what is to be done to help the situation.