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Strep with the Flu?
Hotheelz posted:

Thank you for taking time to read this. My question is whether I may have had a cold/flu at the same time as the strep throat, or whether I even had strep throat at all. I would like to have a better explanation to give for missing the past five days of work. These are my symptoms.

Six days ago on a Sunday night, I developed a sharply painful, red sore throat with swollen tonsils and swollen lymph nodes in my neck. There were no white spots. With my history of sore throats, I decided to nip it in the bud right away. The next day, I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with strep throat (although no test was done) and I was given antibiotics.

The next day, the sore throat pain was minimized, but I developed cold/flu symptoms like congestion, sneezing, runny nose, body aches, extreme exhaustion and fever. These symptoms, including the low grade fever of about 100 degrees, persisted for four days while the cold/flu symptoms progressed into a dry cough and eventually coughing up a little mucous. I pretty much stayed in bed the whole time, miserable.

It is Saturday now and I am finally feeling better. The mysterious fever has disappeared, but I ended up missing a whole week of work due to this unexplained illness. However, my throat is still slightly irritated and I still have swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, as if the antibiotics had little effect on the original diagnosis of strep throat. Did I even have strep throat?

My medical history is that I have always been prone to sore throats, strep throat and tonsillitis since childhood. When I was about 15 I had mono, and to this day I still have a swollen, over-sized lymph node in the backside of my neck on the left near my hairline, which always enlarges whenever I get sick. Also, around age 14, I developed severe allergies, also known as hay fever or allergy to ragweed. At age 26, my ENT suggested a case of tonsillitis was due to constant drainage caused by milk allergies. I followed his advice and I have been dairy-free and completely healthy and well (including tonsillitis and strep-free) for three years. If it matters, I am married with no kids and have always worked office jobs, usually as a computer programmer.

But, things started to change recently. At age 29, I got a cold/flu and tonsillitis with an abscess. That was last February after starting a new job at a child day care center (and missed more work, so I ended up quitting that job because I obviously have a weak immune system). Now this year, in February, I had the type A flu (tested positive) followed by strep throat (tested positive) and missed three weeks of work. Now it is July and I just went through another bout of illness, as described above, possibly cold/flu with strep throat.

I admit that I may go through phases where I tend to overwork and overstress my body to the point of weakening it enough to be susceptible to these kinds of illnesses, and I can think of major stress factors near the times of each of the illnesses. These usually include moving and changing jobs, which I tend to do rather often. To make matters worse, I just moved to a new state and started my newest job last week, and subsequently missed my whole second week of work due to this illness.

In summary, I would like some insight into my frequent throat problems, and specifically what might have been going on this week. Was it a cold/flu at the same time as strep throat? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Holly
Rod_Moser_PA_PhD responded:
Holly, without the ability to examine you, there is really no way for me to know what you "had" or have, based solely on your posting. Incidentally, "white spots" are NOT characteristic of strep, but petechiae (red spots, or micro-hemorrhages) are typical with strep. Since your doctor did not do a strep test (not a good idea) and treated you with antibiotics anyway (not a good idea either), you may never know for sure. My guess, and it is only a guess, is that you did not have strep, but rather a viral infection. Viruses tend to have a plethora of symptoms that includes a sore throat.

Being sick working at a day-care center is not really a fault of your immune system, but rather a common thing that happens when you are constantly over-exposed to disease pathogens.

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