Strep Throat (GAS) (cont.)

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What are home remedies, OTC, and medical treatments for strep throat?

Treatment of a strep throat infection includes the use of antibiotics and over-the-counter medications and home remedies for the reduction of symptoms.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics provide the mainstay for successfully treating a strep throat infection.

The GAS bacteria are generally susceptible to the penicillin family (for example, amoxicillin [Amoxil]) and the cephalosporin family (for example, cephalexin [Keflex], cefprozil [Cefzil), cefdinir [Omnicef] and others).

Members of the macrolide family (for example, erythromycin [E-mycin], azithromycin [Zithromax] and clarithromycin [Biaxin]) are generally felt to be less effective than the other two classes of antibiotics, but are used in individuals with moderate penicillin or cephalosporin allergy. If such a patient cannot tolerate the macrolide family, clindamycin is an alternative and very effective antibiotic option.

Regardless of what antibiotic is prescribed, it is incumbent to complete the entire course of the antibiotic. A rapid reduction in symptoms within 24 to 48 hours is to be expected. Viral throat infections do not require antibiotics since they provide no benefit.

OTC medications

Several over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin), can be used to lower the fever and provide pain relief for the sore throat. Aspirin should not be used in children or adolescents because of its association with Reye's syndrome.

Home remedies for strep throat symptoms

There are a number of home remedies that may be used for symptom reduction. They may be used whether the patient has strep throat or a viral cause of their illness. These remedies should not be used in lieu of a complete course of antibiotics if a GAS infection is being treated. Home therapies include:

  • Saltwater gargle: mix ¼ to ½ teaspoon with 8 ounces of warm water. Young children may swallow the solution instead of gargling it and should thus avoid this approach.
  • Hard candies or throat lozenges may be sucked on for effective reduction of symptoms.
  • Ice cream, smoothies, popsicles, cold drinks, and warm tea with honey may be useful to soothe the sore throat. Honey should be avoided in infants less that 1 year of age because of their increased likelihood of botulinum toxicity and paralysis.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/4/2013

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