While the majority of sore throats are caused by the common cold, others may be due to a more serious condition.
Learn what are the symptoms, causes, and treatment of two possible infections:
Gonorrhea is the 2nd most frequently reported sexually transmitted bacterial infection.
This infection can affect multiple sites in the body, but it typically appears in the genital tract.
The oral cavity can also be involved in a gonococcal infection, either indirectly or directly.
The transmission of oral gonorrhea (also known as pharyngeal gonorrhea) is very efficient from someone who has gonorrhea to their partner via oral sex.
It is a bacterial infection caused by group A Streptococcus.
Strep throat, also known as streptococcal infection, is a common type of sore throat in children, however, it is not very common in adults.
Children are more susceptible than adults due to the fact that their immune systems have had less experience of germs.
Most of these infections occur in South and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
The number has been rising in recent years, thanks to the decreasing use of condoms.
An estimated 12 million people in the US get this infection every year.
About 10% of adults with a sore throat have strep throat.
It is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a Gram-negative diplococcus that can infect numerous mucosal surfaces lined by columnar epithelial cells.
Oral gonorrhea is rare and may range from slight erythema to severe ulceration with a pseudomembranous coating.
The infection is spread through vaginal fluids and semen, however, the transmission of the bacterial infection is not dependent on ejaculation.
According to studies, people under 25 years of age who have unprotected sexual intercourse with multiple sexual partners are at the highest risk. Also, the rate of the infection is substantially higher in men who have sex with men than in heterosexuals.
Also, during childbirth, an infected mother can transmit gonorrhea to the baby.
Can you get gonorrhea from kissing someone who has it in their mouth?
Until recently, kissing has not been asked about in any national sex survey and only sparingly in clinical STI studies.
But, in 2017, a study done at the Melbourne Sexual Health Centre established that kissing is the main driver of gonorrhea transmission.
The study focused on men who have sex with men but scientists said the results would also apply to heterosexual couples.
The cause of this infection is the bacteria known as Streptococcus pyogenes, also referred to as group A streptococcus.
Streptococcus bacterium is extremely contagious and can spread through airborne droplets when a sick individual coughs or sneezes.
The primary symptom of oral gonorrhea is a sore throat, however, approximately 90 percent of infected people may have little signs and symptoms.
Other symptoms may include:
- tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils);
- sores in the mouth, that may be painless;
- difficulty swallowing;
- painful throat;
- lesions similar to cold sores around the mouth.
The most common symptoms include:
- swollen lymph nodes (small glands that filter lymph) in the front of the neck;
- a sore throat that generally starts quickly and may cause pain when swallowing;
- red spots (petechiae) on the roof of the mouth;
- swollen tonsils, occasionally with white patches;
- fever (high temperature).
Note – children under 3 may have vague complaints of abdominal fatigue and pain.
Plus, they may refuse to eat.
Diagnosing oral gonorrhea involves taking a sample from the infected area and growing the bacteria in a lab.
When diagnosing strep throat, your doctor will analyze your symptoms.
If you have two or more symptoms, a rapid test or throat culture may also be done.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterium has become resistant to almost all previously recommended treatments.
In the present day, the treatment currently relies on the use of the extended-spectrum cephalosporins like ceftriaxone.
New Strains of Gonorrhea?
Three new superbug strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae have been identified in the last year which cannot be killed by antibiotics.
More importantly, as of 2017, the first case of ceftriaxone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae was documented in Canada.
The maker of Listerine mouthwash (active ingredients – eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate, and thymol) has claimed that Listerine could be used against oral gonorrhea.
There is a 2016 study that was published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Diseases that supports these claims.
If you are diagnosed with this infection, your healthcare provider will prescribe an antibiotic, such as amoxicillin and penicillin.
Note – if this bacterial infection is not treated correctly with antibiotics, it can lead to complications, like – infected lymph nodes (swollen lymph nodes may have the size of a pea), an abscess near the tonsils, or rheumatic fever.
RF can lead to inflamed joints, a specific form of rash or heart valve damage.
In addition, the infection can cause exacerbation of chronic plaque psoriasis.
Gonorrhea can be prevented by avoiding multiple sexual partners and consistent use of condoms during sex.
To prevent strep infection, it is recommended to:
- not share eating utensils with others;
- clean your hands – it is especially helpful when you are spending time in nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and childcare centers – places where harmful germs are more common;
- spend time outside daily – exposure to UVB sunlight rays boosts your level of vitamin D, which plays an important role in developing a strong immune system;
- have a diet rich in fruits and vegetables;
- have healthy sleeping patterns;
- exercise regularly.
Can you take strep throat from oral sex (on a man or woman)?
No, but it is possible that your partner may have an STI and pass it on to you through fluids exchanged during oral sex.
Conclusion: Oral Gonorrhea vs Strep Throat – What Are The Differences?
Gonorrhea is a prevalent sexually transmitted disease (STD) in both women and men.
Oral gonorrhea (also known as pharyngeal gonorrhea) is defined as a sexually transmitted infection of the pharynx with Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a gram-negative coccal-shaped bacteria.
Symptoms of oral gonorrhea include – fever, swollen glands, and painful swallowing.
Strep throat, also known as streptococcal infection, is also a bacterial infection that typically affects children ages 5 to 15, however, anyone can get it.
Symptoms of strep throat include:
- white patches or spots on the tonsils;
- fever (high temperature);
- swollen and tender lymph nodes on the sides of the upper neck;
- red and swollen tonsils;
- a sore throat.
In conclusion, both are bacterial infections, but gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae while strep throat by Streptococcus pyogenes.
Moreover, strep throat is common in children, while gonorrhea is more frequent in adults. Also, gonorrhea is considered a sexually transmitted disease.