How Long Does It Take Strep to Go Away?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

Ask the experts

I have a strep throat and I have been taking medication for five days now. I have been coughing a lot, too. I was wondering how long the strep bacteria will survive?

Doctor's response

We have no doubt that you had a sore throat. We have no doubt that you are still coughing. But if you have been taking an antibiotic for a strep throat, it may not be that you have (or have ever had) a strep throat, a true strep throat, one that due to a strep bacteria.

A true strep throat that is treated with an appropriate antibiotic (one to which it is sensitive) should, as a rule, be over and done with within a day (24 hours).

The fact that your sore throat did not clear up promptly goes very much against it being a strep. And the fact that you are still coughing 5 days later goes even more strongly against it being a strep.

Sore throats can be due to many causes including, very prominently, a hoard of viruses. A viral sore throat will not respond to an antibiotic and can cause inflammation of the airways (bronchitis). Therefore, a virus that causes a sore throat is quite capable of causing a cough.

Unless there is clear-cut, definite, convincing laboratory proof of a strep, our vote goes to a virus as the best bet.

If your symptoms persist, you should contact your doctor. Hope you feel better.


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