The flu does not turn into strep throat. However, it is possible to get strep throat after being sick with the flu. You can also contract the flu after being sick with strep throat. Despite this, the flu does not “turn into” strep throat, and strep throat does not turn into the flu. In fact, the two are very different types of illnesses: influenza, or the flu, is a viral sickness, which means it can not be treated with antibiotics and is caused by a virus in the body. 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 disease. While the flu may appear to “turn into” strep throat, this is not the case.
The flu and strep throat share multiple symptoms, which can also lead to confusion, but two symptoms 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 to be 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 or during flu season! The flu season (fall and winter months) is the most at-risk time of year for getting sick. Please remember this flu season to get your flu shot, wash your hands, and remember that the flu does not turn into strep throat!
*Reviewed and approved by Dr. Rob Lapporte
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