Having a sore throat can be miserable. Eating, drinking, and even swallowing can be incredibly painful, and most over-the-counter or at home remedies don’t make much of a difference in the pain levels or healing time. If you suspect you have strep throat, don’t hesitate to make a doctor’s appointment and get tested. The sooner you get strep throat treatment, the sooner you’ll feel better and will be able to eat, drink, and swallow again without pain.

While strep throat in and of itself isn’t dangerous, it can be unpleasant and can lead to possible complications. Since bacteria is the root cause, if not properly treated, the bacteria can spread and cause problems and infections in your sinuses, tonsils, middle ear, skin, and blood. Additionally, you can experience inflammatory complications, such as inflammation of the kidney, scarlet fever, and rheumatic fever.

The first step in receiving strep throat treatment is making a doctor’s appointment. Any one of our NCHS locations can see you or your child for general illnesses, including strep throat. Most likely, a rapid antigen test will be the first step in attempting to diagnose strep throat. This test is a quick swab in the back of the throat that is then tested in-office. If that test is positive, you have confirmed strep throat and your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to treat it. If that test is negative, your doctor will explore other options for your symptoms. If he or she still suspects that you have strep throat, another test called a throat culture can be done. This test is done in a similar way to the rapid antigen test, but it must be sent off to a lab to be tested, which can take a few days.

The most commonly utilized and most effective strep throat treatments are antibiotics. Oftentimes, the prescribed medication will bring about fast relief to strep throat symptoms. If no improvement has occurred within 48 hours of beginning the antibiotics, you should contact your doctor.

If you’re waiting for throat culture results or the antibiotics do not seem to be relieving pain sufficiently, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen. Additionally, while you are recovering from strep throat, you should employ various at-home remedies and general health care practices to ensure you begin feeling better quickly. Get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and eat easy-to-swallow foods.

Whether you think you have strep throat or it has already been diagnosed, staying educated and informed about strep throat and its treatments and symptoms is in your best interest. Check out a few of the most commonly asked questions about strep.

Is strep throat contagious?

Strep throat is very contagious. It is usually contracted by sharing utensils or cups, through airborne particles when someone coughs or sneezes, or via an infected surface, like a doorknob or faucet handle. After an individual begins taking antibiotics for strep throat, they remain contagious for 24 hours, but after that time period are generally free from contagions, even though their symptoms may not be entirely resolved.

Can I take antibiotics for strep throat?

Yes! If you are given a strep test and the results are positive, you will be given a prescription for antibiotics. While the medication may vary slightly based on your age and health history, antibiotics are the most effective way to treat strep throat.

What causes strep throat?

Strep throat is caused by a bacteria known as streptococcus pyogenes, or Group A streptococcus. The bacteria can be contracted and shared in a variety of ways, so if you or someone around you has strep throat, it is best to wash your hands and disinfect surfaces frequently and thoroughly.

Does strep throat go away on its own?

Typically, strep throat will go away on its own after 4-7 days of symptoms. If you can muster through the pain for that amount of time, you will likely develop a stronger immunity to strep throat, reducing your likelihood of getting it again. However, when strep throat is not treated, the likelihood for complications increases, particularly in children in whom rheumatic fever is a concern.

Strep Throat Symptoms

While a sore throat can be a minor symptom of a common cold or other virus, strep throat generally involves multiple other symptoms, in addition to a severe sore throat. The following are the most common strep throat symptoms:

  • Throat pain that comes on quickly and suddenly
  • Painful swallowing
  • Red spots on the roof of the mouth, usually near the back
  • Red and swollen tonsils
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes on neck
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Rash
  • Body aches

Keep in mind that many of these symptoms can occur outside of strep throat, possibly from a viral infection or cold. When the sore throat is severe and cannot be relieved with over-the-counter medications or home remedies, it is best to visit a doctor to be tested for strep throat. It is highly contagious and can cause complications, so it is best to receive strep throat treatment as early as possible after contract the illness.

If you are experiencing strep throat symptoms, visit an NCHS walk-in clinic for strep throat testing and treatment.