Strep Throat vs. Bronchitis

Nick Rosen, MD
Medically reviewed by Nick Rosen, MDFebruary 1st, 2021
coughing older woman

Like most people, you can probably identify when you start getting sick. The question then becomes, “What do I have?” Some illnesses have overlapping symptoms, which can make it hard to know for sure what you’ve come down with, like bronchitis and strep throat. However, these conditions have enough differentiators that you—or your doctor—can quickly rule one out.


Strep Throat

The name of strep throat comes from the bacteria that causes it: Streptococcus pyogenes, or group A streptococcus. This bacterial infection mostly affects the throat, causing it to feel sore and scratchy, and the pain usually comes on quickly. This is generally the biggest indicator that your illness is strep throat and not another condition. Additional symptoms of strep throat can include:

  • Painful swallowing
  • Red and swollen tonsils, sometimes with white patches or streaks of pus
  • Tiny red spots on the area at the back of the roof of the mouth
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes in your neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Nausea or vomiting, especially in younger children
  • Body aches


Bronchitis is the inflammation of the lining of your bronchial tubes and can be acute or chronic. Acute bronchitis is very common and develops from a cold or respiratory infection. The most prominent symptom of this illness is a persistent cough, but other common symptoms include:

  • Production of mucus, which can be clear, white, yellowish-gray or green in color
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Slight fever and chills
  • Chest discomfort

When the Confusion Occurs

As you can see, the symptoms of strep throat and bronchitis are fairly different. You don’t typically cough with strep, and you don’t usually have a sore throat with bronchitis. However, it can become confusing if your throat becomes so swollen with strep that you feel the need to cough, or you end up coughing so much with bronchitis that it leaves your throat raw and irritated. Overall, you should evaluate all of your symptoms and schedule an appointment with your doctor to receive the right diagnosis. This way, you’ll be able to take the right medication and follow a treatment plan that will address your illness and get you on the path to recovery.

Try to Trace the Source

Another way to help determine whether you’re suffering from strep throat or bronchitis is to think back if you were in contact with anyone that had either illness. Both strep throat and acute bronchitis are contagious, so it’ll be easier to figure out which one you have if you spent time with someone that had one or the other.

Receive the Right Treatment from DispatchHealth

You can turn to DispatchHealth for the proper diagnosis and treatment of your strep throat, bronchitis, or an entirely different condition. We provide in-home medical care thanks to our experienced team of healthcare professionals and extensive resources. In fact, each medical kit brought to your home contain nearly all of the tools and technologies found in an ER. What’s more, we can fill prescriptions, which are typically needed to treat both strep throat and bronchitis.


Receiving in-home treatment is a wonderful luxury when you feel under the weather and can’t fathom driving to the urgent care or emergency room and sitting in the waiting room. This is especially helpful during the

COVID-19 crisis, when staying home and avoiding contact with others is important. You can feel confident having our team visit you at your house because we are closely following safety protocols: wearing full PPE gear, disinfecting equipment, and sanitizing cars between each visit.

Get the treatment you need from DispatchHealth—contact us through our website, mobile app, or phone line to schedule an appointment.


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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