Can You Have Strep Throat Without a Fever? When to Go to Urgent Care

A sick woman touches her sore throat with her fingertips.

If you have a scratchy, sore throat that lasts for more than just a few days, you could have a bacterial infection called strep throat. While most sore throats are a symptom of viral infections, strep throat is bacterial. Bacterial infections are caused by bacteria that spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets or by eating or drinking contaminated food or water.

So, does strep throat cause a fever? While fevers are a common symptom of strep throat, you can also have strep throat without a fever. However, whether you have a fever or not with strep throat, you are still contagious.

Common symptoms of strep throat

If you think you have strep throat, it’s best to get checked by your primary care doctor or local urgent care center. If you are diagnosed with strep throat, they will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics to alleviate your pain and eliminate the harmful bacteria. Once you begin taking the medication, you should begin to feel better in 1-2 days. Though you will begin feeling better quickly and will no longer be contagious after 24 hours, you should take the entire course of medication as prescribed by your doctor to eliminate all harmful bacteria.

Doctors will look for these signs to confirm your diagnosis:

  • No cough
    If you have a sore throat but aren’t coughing, you may have strep throat.
  • Swollen lymph nodes
    Swollen lymph nodes in the front part of your neck may indicate strep throat.
  • White spots
    White spots on your tonsils are a common sign of strep throat.
  • Petechiae
    Tiny, red spots on the roof of your mouth could be a sign of strep throat.
  • Fever
    Fevers are also a sign of strep throat.

Even if you aren’t experiencing all of the common symptoms of strep throat, like a fever, you may still have it and be contagious. The best thing to do is visit your local urgent care center for a rapid antigen test or a throat culture.

Rapid antigen test

This test uses a long swab to collect a sample from the back of your throat. Your doctor will then examine the sample under a microscope to look for antigens (substances from the bacterium stimulating an immune response). If this test comes back positive, your doctor will likely prescribe an oral antibiotic. If this test comes back negative, your doctor may want a throat culture to confirm.

Throat culture

This test uses a long swab to collect a sample from your tonsils and the back of your throat. This sample is then cultured (grown) in a laboratory to see if the bacterium is present and grows. Results of this test may take 2 days. Whether you’re experiencing one symptom of strep throat or several, visit Getwell Urgent Care for expert treatment. We can help eliminate your symptoms of strep throat with or without a persistent or severe fever quickly and affordably. Walk in 7 days a week to feel better fast.