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Diagnosis and treatment of streptococcal sore throat
  • Relevant BNF section: 5.1


Sore throat is very common. Usually it is due to a viral infection, often as a part of a 'cold' or a 'flu-like illness. Alternatively it may be due to bacterial infection, when antibiotic treatment has to be considered. The most common bacterial cause is infection with the group A beta-haemolytic streptococcus (Streptococcus pyogenes). Although streptococcal pharyngitis or tonsillitis will usually resolve without treatment, the infection may be complicated by otitis media, and rarely by peritonsillar abscess (quinsy), suppurative cervical adenitis, acute rheumatic fever or acute glomerulonephritis. In this article we discuss the diagnosis of streptococcal sore throat and how it should be managed.

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