Yes, strep throat generally goes away on its own in three to five days.
Nonetheless, antibiotics are generally recommended based on certain lab tests.
- Many who do not take antibiotics in a confirmed case of strep throat may remain contagious for as long as two weeks and even be at a higher risk of complications.
- Because most cases of sore throat are caused by a viral infection, you can not take antibiotics for sore throat unless prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor may prescribe you penicillin or other antibiotics related to penicillin for the treatment of strep throat. In case you are allergic to penicillin, your doctor will prescribe another antibiotic.
Treatment with antibiotics not only relieves the symptoms and clears the infection but also reduces the chances of passing on the disease to others.
Treatment for strep throat is important as untreated infection can lead to serious complications, such as:
- Rheumatic fever (a serious condition causing inflammation of the heart, joints, brain, and skin)
- Kidney disease (also called post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis)
- Scarlet fever (a condition causing bright red rash all over the body)
- Joint inflammation (arthritis)
- Secondary infections (such as viral infections that can make the condition more difficult to manage)
- Middle ear infection
- Tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) and peritonsillar abscess (pus collection around the tonsils)
- Skin infections
- Pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal (PANDAS) infections (neuropsychiatric problems, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and tic symptoms in a child following a strep infection) are a very rare complication proposed due to strep infection; many experts even debate its existence
How is strep throat treated?
The treatment of strep throat includes:
- Antibiotics (such as penicillin, amoxicillin, or other antibiotics in case of allergy to penicillin)
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs (such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen)
- Saltwater gargles (one-fourth to half teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water)
- Drink plenty of fluids
- Hard candies or lozenges to manage throat irritation or dryness (avoid giving to young children, you may give them popsicles or cold liquids instead)
What is strep throat?
Strep throat is a type of throat infection caused by the bacteria called group A streptococcus. This bacteria lives in the nose and throat and may not cause symptoms in every person. Despite the absence of symptoms, the infected person can still spread the infection to others when they cough or sneeze.
When the infected person sneezes or coughs, small droplets are generated that contain the bacteria. The infection spreads to others when they:
What are the symptoms of strep throat?
The symptoms of strep throat may vary. Generally, they are mild although the throat pain is often intense. Cough is typically absent.
Symptoms of strep throat may include:
- Sore throat (generally sudden onset)
- Pain during swallowing
- Swollen lymph nodes or glands in the neck
- Tiny small red spots on the roof of the mouth (palate)
- Nausea, vomiting
- Feeling unwell
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rash (also called scarlatina or scarlet fever)
How is strep throat diagnosed?
The diagnosis of strep throat is done by a healthcare provider based on your symptoms, physical examinations, and certain lab tests.
Your doctor needs to collect a throat swab and send it for lab examination (rapid strep test and throat culture) to confirm that you have a strep infection. If the lab report comes positive for strep infection, your doctor will prescribe the antibiotics and other necessary medications.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Strep Throat: All You Need to Know. https://www.cdc.gov/groupastrep/diseases-public/strep-throat.html
Stead W. Patient education: Sore throat in adults (Beyond the Basics). UpToDate. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/sore-throat-in-adults-beyond-the-basics/print
Brown WA. PANDAS: Nonexistent or Simply Rare? https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/pandas-nonexistent-or-simply-rare
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