How To Decide If You Might Have Strep Throat

Save Money The Simple & Easy Way!

Strep Throat or NOT?


Doctors use a validated set of criteria to decide if a particular patient might have strep throat.  These guidelines help determine who needs testing, who can just be treated without the cost and delay of lab tests and who does not need anything other than symptomatic measures for their  cold.

Labs tests are expensive!  Visits for Sore Throats result in over 1.2 billion dollars of health care expenditure every year.  If you have children you are most likely contributing to this enormous outlay of $$!  There are many simple ways to save money when you need to see a doctor. 

The Centor Criteria have been around for a long time and are a valuable tool to help predict the chance of strep throat.  Strep throat is caused by a bacteria called streptococcus and requires antibiotic treatment.  Viruses on the other hand, are still the most common cause of a sore throat and will resolve on their own.  Don't waste time, money and pay for unnecessary antibiotics for a viral infection.  The side effects can be worse than anything else!

So here they are:  The CENTOR Criteria:


The patients are judged on four criteria, with one point added for each positive criterion:

  • History of fever
  • Tonsillar exuates (the white goo we all often see in the back of the throat)
  • Tender anterior cervical adenopathy (fancy word for swollen glands)
  • Absence of cough

The Modified Centor Criteria add the patient's age to the criteria:

  • Age <15 add 1 point
  • Age >44 subtract 1 point

The point system is important in that it dictates management. Guidelines for management state:

  • <2 points - No antibiotic or throat culture necessary (Risk of strep. infection <10%)
  • 2-3 points - Should receive a throat culture and treat with an antibiotic if culture is positive (Risk of strep. infection 32% if 3 criteria, 15% if 2)
  • >3 points - Treat empirically with an antibiotic (Risk of strep. infection 56%)

The presence of all four variables indicates a 40 - 60% chance that you will have strep throat (Group A Streptococcus bacteria).

The absence of all four variables indicates a greater than 80% or more chance of NOT having strep.

Depending on the type of test used, your lab bill may be in excess of $120 for testing alone!  Add on top of that the clinici/physician charge and your Co-pay and it is easy to see how a simple problem of having a sore throat could add up to alot of $$ out of your pocket.

Wishing you the best of health