Strep Throat vs. Chlamydia: Understanding the Difference

A woman feels her lymph nodes, implying she has a sore throat.
  • Strep throat and oropharyngeal chlamydia are both infections of the respiratory tract caused by bacteria.

  • Both conditions can result in similar symptoms like sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and swallowing difficulties.

  • Most treatment options for these infections include antibiotics and over-the-counter (OTC) medication. It’s important to determine whether you have strep throat or chlamydia to ensure you get the right treatment.

What is Strep Throat?

Strep throat — also known as streptococcus throat — is a bacterial infection that affects the mouth and respiratory tract.

The bacteria (Streptococcus pyogenes) causes inflammation to develop in the throat, which can lead to severe discomfort.

What are the common symptoms of strep throat?

The symptoms of strep throat infections usually range from mild to severe and may include any of the following:

  • Sore throat

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Fever

  • Red and swollen tonsils

  • White patches or streaks of pus on the tonsils

  • Headache

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Fatigue

In some cases, patients may develop a rash called scarlet fever. This is usually common in children with strep throat and it requires professional medical attention.

How is strep throat treated?

Strep throat can be treated effectively with antibiotics containing penicillin or amoxicillin — these substances kill the infection-causing bacteria.

Your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics that will usually last for ten days.

It’s important to finish the entire course, even if your symptoms improve, to prevent antibiotic resistance from developing.

Finishing the course also ensures that the bacteria is completely removed from the body.

To relieve other strep throat symptoms like pain and fever, your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter (OTC) remedies.

What is Chlamydia?

Chlamydia is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by bacteria that affects the genital areas.

You can also develop chlamydia in your throat — called oropharyngeal or oral chlamydia — if you engage in oral sex with an infected person.

Does chlamydia cause any symptoms?

Oropharyngeal chlamydia is often asymptomatic, meaning that you may not show any symptoms. However, some people may experience the following:

  • Sore throat

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Difficulty swallowing

You may also experience a foul-smelling or unusually thick discharge if you have a genital or anal chlamydia infection.

It’s important to seek treatment for chlamydia as soon as possible to avoid severe health complications.

Can chlamydia in the throat be treated?

You can treat chlamydia in the throat with antibiotics that contain azithromycin and doxycycline. Your doctor will likely recommend a course that lasts for seven days.

Once you’ve completed your treatment, it’s recommended that you go for an STD test every three to four months. This will help you ensure that you’ve been cured.

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How Can I Tell the Difference Between Strep Throat and Chlamydia?

If a chlamydia infection spreads to the respiratory tract, it can resemble illnesses like strep throat.


Strep throat is a primary, or root cause, infection of the respiratory tract that is caused by harmful bacteria and spread through respiratory droplets.

Oropharyngeal chlamydia is also caused by bacteria but is usually a secondary infection. This means that a different primary condition has spread to different parts of the body.

In this case, oropharyngeal chlamydia is caused by the STI — chlamydia — that has spread to the throat.


Most cases of chlamydia in the throat won’t cause any symptoms. In some cases, people may experience a sore throat and difficulty swallowing.

A strep throat infection, on the other hand, will always cause symptoms. If you don’t have any symptoms, it’s unlikely that you have strep throat.

What is the Best Way to Know if You Have Strep Throat or Chlamydia?

The best way to determine the cause of your infection is to take two different tests — one for identifying STIs and another for strep throat.

These tests are usually recommended by a medical professional and involve taking a blood or urine sample. The samples will require laboratory testing before you get your results.

Once you’ve determined what is causing your infection, you can get the treatment you require

Your treatment plan will be recommended by a licensed doctor, like the ones at LifeMD.

You can make an appointment for a virtual consultation during which you can get the necessary prescriptions to help you recover from your infection.

Where Can I Learn More About Strep Throat, Chlamydia, and Other Conditions?

If you are concerned about any of your strep throat or oral chlamydia symptoms, you can speak to one of LifeMD’s board-certified physicians or nurse practitioners from the comfort of your home.

Head over to LifeMD to make a telehealth appointment.

Jarrod Nero, MSN, APRN, FNP-C

Jarrod, a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner, earned his B.S. in Nursing from William Carey University and an M. S. in Family Health Nursing from the Southern University of Baton Rouge. He lives in New Orleans with his partner and son.

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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