Strep throat is a bacterial infection that affects the throat and tonsils. If you have strep throat, you can experience symptoms like pain when swallowing, sore throat, fever, and rash. Symptoms usually appear two to five days after you are initially infected with the bacteria that cause strep throat, group A streptococcus.

A variety of healthcare providers, including primary care providers, emergency department or urgent care providers, nurse practitioners, and infectious disease consultants, can treat strep throat.

The goal of strep throat treatment is to reduce the length of the infection and symptoms, prevent further complications related to infection, and minimize the risk of spreading infection to others.

Antibiotics are the main type of treatment used to treat a strep throat infection. The type of antibiotic prescribed and the way an antibiotic is given varies person to person.

Some severe strep throat cases cause rare complications like rheumatic fever and pockets of pus around the tonsils or in the neck. These complications sometimes require other treatment approaches alongside antibiotic treatment.


Taking antibiotics and, if necessary, over-the-counter painkillers and fever reducers is the way to treat strep throat.


Antibiotics are medications that treat infections by eliminating bacteria or making it harder for bacteria to reproduce in your body. Antibiotics are the prescription medication of choice to treat a case of strep throat.

Penicillin and amoxicillin are the two antibiotics that are highest recommended because they are low-cost and have few side effects. The two antibiotics come in pill or liquid forms and are usually taken for 10 days. Your prescribing healthcare provider will tell you how many times a day to take the medication and at what amount.

If your healthcare provider is concerned about whether you will finish the 10-day oral antibiotic treatment process, they might instead offer you a one-time penicillin shot in the muscle of your buttock or thigh to treat the strep throat.

Some people might be allergic to penicillin or amoxicillin. Luckily there are many other antibiotics that can be prescribed to treat strep throat in these people. Some of the antibiotics your healthcare provider might prescribe are:

  • Keflex (cephalexin)
  • Cleocin (clindamycin)
  • Biaxin (clarithromycin)
  • Cefadroxil
  • Zithromax (azithromycin), taken for five days

When taking antibiotics, it is important to take them as your healthcare provider directs and finish your prescription even if you start to feel better. If your symptoms do not improve after three days of antibiotic use or become worse, reach out to your healthcare provider.

Antibiotics sometimes can cause side effects. Some potential side effects when taking antibiotics can include:

Editor’s Note: Not everyone who tests positive for strep throat needs antibiotics. If you test positive for the infection but have no symptoms, you are considered a carrier. Carriers might not need antibiotics as they are unlikely to spread the infection to others and are also less likely to develop complications.


In addition to your antibiotic treatment, you may also consider purchasing medicine to help ease moderate or severe symptoms or to reduce a fever associated with strep throat. This can include taking Tylenol (acetaminophen) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as ibuprofen, which is sold under brand names like Advil and Motrin.

Throat sprays that have topical anesthetics like benzocaine or phenol, as well as lozenges or cough drops, may also help relieve sore throat.


Strep throat symptoms can be bothersome and affect quality of life. As your antibiotics are at work, you may also want to try some things to help with throat pain or discomfort. Approaches to manage a sore throat include:

  • Using a clean humidifier or cool mist vaporizer
  • Gargling with salt water
  • Drinking warm liquids
  • Drinking cold liquids or sucking on ice pops

Living With and Managing Strep Throat

Most of the time, strep throat is considered a mild disease. In fact, group A streptococcal infections have life-threatening complications in less than 0.015% of children and 0.05% of adults with the condition.

Strep throat symptoms usually peak between three to five days and resolve within 10 days. With antibiotic treatment, some people may see their symptoms go away as early as three days after treatment.

If it goes untreated, strep throat can lead to serious complications. 

One such complication is rheumatic fever, an inflammatory reaction in the heart, joints, and brain that can develop one to five weeks after your strep throat infection. If you develop rheumatic fever, you will need antibiotics as well as NSAIDs to manage your inflammation.

Untreated strep throat can also lead to peritonsillar abscess, which is an accumulation of pus in and around the tonsils. To treat this abscess, your healthcare provider will make a small incision in your tonsils to drain the infected area. In some cases, your provider might opt to surgically remove your tonsils (tonsillectomy). Whether you need your tonsils drained or removed entirely, your will also need an antibiotic regimen to help treat the infection.

If you or someone you live with has strep throat, make sure to practice good hygiene so that you prevent its spread. This includes:

  • Washing your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds (especially after sneezing or coughing or prior to preparing food)
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Coughing or sneezing into your elbow and not your hands
  • Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Cleaning utensils, dishes, and glasses thoroughly after using them 

A Quick Review

Strep throat is a common bacterial infection that causes sore throat and fever, as well as pain when swallowing. Cases of strep throat are treated with antibiotics like penicillin and amoxicillin that you take for 10 days. If you are allergic to these types of antibiotics, you will be prescribed a different type of antibiotic. You may also take over-the-counter pain relievers or fever reducers to help ease symptoms. Certain tricks, like gargling salt water or drinking warm liquids, can also help manage symptoms. 

If left untreated, strep throat can cause more severe complications like rheumatic fever and tonsillar abscesses which require additional treatment alongside an antibiotic regimen. If you or a loved one is experiencing strep throat symptoms, reach out to a healthcare provider to get a diagnosis and, if diagnosed with strep throat, the prescription antibiotics needed to treat the infection. 

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Read the original article on Health.

2023-03-27T21:02:20Z dg43tfdfdgfd