The flu does not turn into strep throat. This is because the two are very different types of illnesses. Influenza, or the flu, is a viral sickness, which means it is caused by a virus in the body and cannot be treated with antibiotics. Strep throat is a bacterial sickness, meaning it is caused by the presence of unwelcome bacteria in the body and can be treated with antibiotics. Since the flu is a viral sickness and strep throat is bacterial, one cannot “turn into” the other.
That being said, it is possible to get one illness right after the other, and it may not be completely coincidental! When the body is fighting the flu (or strep throat), the immune system may weaken, making the body vulnerable to new diseases. While the flu may appear to “turn into” strep throat, or vice versa, this is not the case.
The flu and strep throat share multiple symptoms, which can also lead to confusion, but two symptoms in particular differentiate the two illnesses. High fever within the last 24 hours indicates a case of strep throat—not the flu. If one has no fever but is coughing, it is most likely the flu. Additionally, it is possible to have both the flu and strep throat at the same time! Those with weaker immune systems, such as children and the elderly, are especially vulnerable to contracting multiple illnesses simultaneously or consecutively.
The best ways to prevent strep throat and the flu are to wash your hands, avoid people that are sick, and get a flu shot before flu season begins! Flu season (fall and winter months, with a peak in late November) is the most at-risk time of year for getting sick with the flu. Remember this flu season to get your flu shot and wash your hands. And don’t forget, the flu does not turn into strep throat!
*Reviewed and approved by Dr. Rob Lapporte
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